Washington Metro extension of Red Line to Wheaton opens

September 23, 1990

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority marked the opening of its 3.2-mile Metrorail Red Line expansion yesterday with a carnival-like ceremony in Wheaton at the landing of "the longest escalator in the free world."

Hundreds of balloon-toting onlookers snatched up free round-trip passes and marveled at the 230-foot escalator.

Officials said it is the longest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and -- worldwide -- second only to Leningrad's. It takes an estimated 2 1/2 minutes to descend.

The extension, which includes a station at Forest Glen in Silver Spring, ends at Wheaton. The Red Line extension is the first part ofmore than 19 miles of rail planned to open by 1993. Included in the plan is the Glenmont station, one stop beyond Wheaton.

"I look forward to the day when we can open the Glenmont station," said Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer, "and then focus even beyond that on extending the service from Shady Grove to Frederick and points beyond."

Metro is offering a free round-trip ride originating from either of the two new stations today. The fare to Metro Center from Forest Glen will be $1.75 during peak hours, $1.25 off-peak. Passengers to Wheaton will pay $2 peak and $1.25 off-peak.

The expansion enlarges the Metrorail system to 73 miles.

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