WMATA to host Fleet of the Future Expo from March 20 through April 3

March 6, 2024
The expo will give the public a sneak peek at its all-digital, new 8,000-series railcars and zero-emissions buses.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will be hosting the Fleet of the Future Expo from March 20 through April 3. The expo will give the public a sneak peek at its all-digital, new 8000-series railcars and zero-emissions buses. 

The Fleet of the Future Expo will be prominently displayed on the National Mall at 12th St. and Madison Drive NW near the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and National Museum of Natural History. It’s the first time WMATA has hosted the public to see a mock-up of its newest trains on the National Mall since the first 1000-series train cars in 1968.  

“Unveiling the Fleet of the Future marks a major step for WMATA,” said WMATA General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke. “We took best practices from all over the world – open gangways, more space, better digital screens for real-time information, enhanced video systems to improve safety, a more sustainable aluminum shell and eye-catching design – and put them in this train. We are proud of all the improvements we were able to pack into this new fleet and welcome everyone to come out and see the future of America’s transit system.” 

The expo on the National Mall will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

WMATA notes the 82-feet long and 10-feet wide mock-up that will be on display is not a full-size replica of the two connected open gangway cars, but rather features portions of each to give customers an idea of what the trains will feel like. The prototype will have key differences from the final manufactured product. It has manual doors, no heated floors, stickers will be used in some places instead of digital displays, the lighting will be different and the seats will be molded instead of fabric. 

Guests can tour the railcar and a new 60-foot electric bus, learn more about the design and provide feedback during the event. 

WMATA's new battery-electric buses (BEBs) have zero tailpipe emissions, which means improved air quality. The agency notes the BEBs are also much quieter and have a smoother ride with less vibration since electric buses don’t have an internal combustion engine. Improved customer amenities include digital passenger information screens, USB charging ports and new fare boxes

“Two of these buses have entered service on and customers have given us an overwhelmingly positive response,” Clarke said. “More electric buses are on the way later this year and we wanted to give our community a chance to check out these incredibly quiet and environmentally friendly vehicles at the Fleet of the Future Expo.” 

The trains feature WMATA’s first open passageway design for moving between two cars, increasing safety, passenger flow and capacity. Eight-car trains will be made up of four sets of two-car pairs and six-car trains will be made up of three sets of two-car pairs. They also feature more seating along the walls to allow more standing room for passengers and dedicated spaces for people who use mobility devices. The trains will also have more flexible space for bikes, strollers and luggage. WMATA notes the technology is improved, with larger and more visible digital information screens and more energy-efficient radiant heated floors. 

Hitachi Rail was awarded the $2.2 billion contract to assemble the 256, 8000-series trains in its new factory in Hagerstown, Md., with additional options of up to 800 total cars. The goal is to replace WMATA’s oldest trains, the 2000- and 3000-series from the 1980s, to create a more reliable fleet. The company says the railcars will also feature high-definition security cameras, an improved ventilation system, improved regenerative braking and stringent cybersecurity requirements.  

"We believe the new 8000-series railcars will significantly enhance passenger experience for WMATA riders and Hitachi Rail is proud to be part of this legacy – continuing our decades long history of transit project delivery in the U.S. At Hitachi Rail our mission is to provide more seamless, sustainable journeys for passengers, customers and cities. The creation of this new factory in Maryland reflects our ambition to deliver for the United States,” said Giuseppe Marino, group CEO, Hitachi Rail. 

WMATA says The Fleet of the Future Expo is a throwback to WMATA's history. In 1968, a prototype train was built and displayed across the region, including on the White House lawn, where President Lyndon B. Johnson toured the 1000-series train. Future riders also saw the mocked-up train on the National Mall and at regional malls like Prince George’s Plaza and L’Enfant Plaza

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service Pros.com in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.