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.