My first Breda ride…

3 minute read

October 11, 2011, 10:22 PM

So I was scanning again on Sunday, since I brought all the old photos up from Stuarts Draft a few weeks ago.  Among other things, I scanned in the photos from our family’s first trip to Washington DC, which we did with friends of ours visiting from out of town, on June 21, 1994.  The night before, all of us had stayed with another friend in Tracys Landing, Maryland, and then drove over to Pentagon City Mall, where we caught the Metro at Pentagon City.  We rode into DC from there to McPherson Square.  That first ride was on a Rohr (1000-Series) car, since I specifically remember the red door release covers from that ride.

Getting off the Metro, we toured the White House, went to the Natural History museum, and then saw the Air and Space Museum.  Not too bad.  We were definitely all tourists on that trip, and so we did the tourist thing.

Then on the way back, we took Metro from Smithsonian back to Pentagon City.  As chance would have it, either Mom or Dad took a picture of me on the return trip home.  And much to my surprise, in looking at the photo this weekend, it turns out that the return trip was on a Breda:

My first Breda ride, from June 21, 1994

Funny… as evidenced in this Journal entry, I apparently misremembered what I had on that first trip.  I thought we had Rohrs both ways, but apparently we had a Breda coming home, since that is definitely a brown rubber handrail, and not the shiny handrails of the Rohrs.  And get this – look at the handrails!  Those brown rubber handrails looked really nice when they were new.  Consider that in 1994, the Breda 2000-Series was roughly 12 years old, the 3000-Series was roughly seven years old, and some of the 4000-Series cars were brand new.  Now that the 4000-Series cars start turning 20 years old this year, those rubber handrails don’t look too nice anymore.

Then in looking at the other elements of the photo (aside from this being a Breda and not a Rohr as I had thought), apparently this was a candid shot.  I don’t remember this photo’s being taken, and it shows.  Not one of my best expressions.  I’ve made better facial expressions for Metro-type photos.  But apparently I was taken up in the experience of riding the Metro for the first time.  Then the person whom I am sitting with on the train is Mom’s friend Arlinda, whom I last got to meet up with at Union Station in 2006.

So there you go, I suppose!  My first Breda ride, and earlier than I thought.  I could have sworn that we had Rohrs both ways that time!  I didn’t remember noticing any difference in the Metro cars until the next trip in December of that same year, when we took the Orange Line from Vienna for the first time and noticed the brown rubber handrails of the Breda cars vs. the shiny metal handrails of the Rohrs.  I guess because the entire subway experience was new to me was why I didn’t notice that.  After all, you have to realize that before that day, I had never ridden public transportation before, ever.  Consider that the closest I had gotten to riding public transportation before that was the monorail at Walt Disney World.  This was an experience, so I’ll forgive myself for not noticing.  But yeah, a Breda.  Not a Rohr…

Web site: "Subway Cars of the 1970s" - note, however, that the car in the photo is a Breda, and thus a subway car of the 1980s...

Song: Metro from 1991. This is a bit closer to what Metro looked like when I first rode it. At the 12 minute mark, you can see Rohrs arriving at a station prior to the mid-life rehab, which gave them the distinctive sound that they are known for today.

Quote: So strange thinking about the way Metro was back then. No PIDS screens, and no e-alerts. The only way you knew that any train was coming by looking at the flashing lights at the platform edge. I think that @FixWMATA would have had a stroke if he rode Metro back then, without all the various technological things that it has now.

Categories: Washington DC, WMATA