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But problems are acute on the Green Line, which has been overwhelmed by riders since Jan. 13, when Metro opened five stations two months early. The stations stretch from Congress Heights in the District to Branch Avenue in Prince George's County.
Transit officials said they had expected the total number of daily passengers boarding at the new stations to reach 22,000 by June. Instead, more than 26,000 showed up the first day of regular operation, and ridership has steadily increased. On Thursday, 35,920 riders boarded trains at the five new stations.
For that reason, the first new cars to begin service will run on the Green Line, Proctor said.
Metro engineers and the Spain-based car manufacturer, CAF Inc., have been working for months to iron out bugs. The rail cars are the first manufactured by CAF for a U.S. subway system.
Metro is expected to take possession of the first four rail cars this week. The cars will then run without passengers for about two weeks as Metro managers monitor their propulsion, brakes and doors, said Jay Paulus, Metro's shop superintendent for rail car maintenance.
"I want to see them run over and over, making sure the speeds are what they should be, the doors open the way they should, that everything is operating the way it should," he said.
Metro's contract calls for CAF to deliver 80 of the new cars by June 30 with the rest phased in over the summer and fall. The rail cars are designed to last 40 years, with a midlife overhaul after 20 years.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
Metro Takes Cities On Different Tracks
Stops Helped Shape Bethesda, Silver Spring
By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2001
Every day, Metro trains carry about 125,000 people from Montgomery County to destinations across the Washington area. The Metro has become a seamless part of suburban life, as integral to Montgomery's makeup as the strip malls on Rockville
As Metro celebrates its 25th anniversary, few disagree that the rail system has had a profound influence in shaping what Montgomery looks like today, particularly in the communities surrounding the Metro stops.
Nowhere perhaps is that influence more apparent -- albeit in strikingly different ways -- than in Silver Spring and Bethesda.
Silver Spring got its Metro station in 1978, with Bethesda following in 1984. Two decades later, one is continuing efforts to lure businesses and shoppers back to its sagging downtown while the other has evolved into one of the area's hottest destinations for eating, shopping and living.
In Bethesda, development "was all about Metro," said John Carter, chief of community-based planning for the Montgomery County Planning Board. As for Silver Spring, Carter said, "It's taken a long time for it to catch up."
Of course, development experts and Metro officials say Metro isn't solely responsible in either area. Bethesda sat between Friendship Heights and Rockville, a corridor developers already had their eye on before the Metro stop arrived. Bethesda also had the National Institutes of Health, a natural hub of future growth.
In Silver Spring, meanwhile, people were already talking about the need to rejuvenate. By the time the Metro stop opened there, county officials say, it was no panacea for the drain from downtown. The Post reported in 1981 that the great "revival" expected once Metro's station opened on Colesville Road "failed to arrive." Hecht's, a key retail anchor, closed its downtown Silver Spring store in favor of a new one at Wheaton Plaza nine years after Metro arrived.
"It was in decline before Metro came," Carter said.
Peter Benjamin, chief financial officer for Metro, said studies show that it can take years for transit to spur development, if ever. Benjamin said he credits Metro with bringing some of the new office high-rises to downtown Silver Spring. The area, he said, has simply taken longer to become ripe for developers.
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