Metro's new Dupont Circle subway station, which ranks among the world's deepest, proved also to be among the coldest at its opening yesterday when its escalator ramp funneled a frigid north wind downward to chill passengers waiting on its atforms.
Despite the near zero temperature, the new station - which serves a residential, commercial and hotel area - did a brisk business, producing at least 1,000 new one-way cutomers for the five-mile subway line by midafternoon.
Roy T. Dodge, Metro's chief of design and construction, shivering as he waited for the start of a dedication ceremony that was cut short because of the temperature, said "we're going to have to do something about it . . . we might even have to put swinging doors in."
The stateion entry - the only one now being used - is located in a plaza at Connecticut Avenue and Q Street NW, one block north of Dupont Circle itself. Its opening faces northwestward and resembles a huge bowl attached to a sloping spout-like ramp containing three escalators.
With outdoor temperatures at a record low, the slanting ramp became a wind tunnel, pouring the cold air in an unobstructed line onto the station mezzanine and platforms.
When the Dupont Circle station design was disclosed several years ago, Metro officials turned aside the objections of critics who contended it would expose passengers to the xtremes of weather.
By 1 p.m., seven hours after the facility opened and halfway through the operating day, Dupont Circle station had attracted 1,400 passengers, while patronage at Farragut North dropped to 2,300 from its usual 2,700.
Cody Pfanstiehl, Metro's community services director, said this would indicate that the station had attracted 1,000 new riders during the half day. If each rider made a return trip later in the day, the result would be about a 10 per cent rise in the subway's 20,000 users.
By the 8 p.m. close of operations the number of Dupont Circle customers was 2,259.
Total patronage from Dupont Circle is expected to reach 4,000 in the months ahead, but only after the station's second entry at the south edge of Dupont Circle is put into use in March.
The first passenger to pay fare at the station was Perry O'Neil, 15, a student at the Capitol Page School, who walked 2 1/2 miles from his home near the Naval Observatory and arrived outside the station at 5:40 a.m. the first commuter on his way to work was Francis Reilly, 44, a librarian at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The dedication ceremony was sponsored by seven Dupont Circle citizen and business groups and arranged by the Dupont Circle North Association. Its president, Oliver J. Neslage, welcomed the arrival of Metro as a spur to business and an aid to residential stability.
Among the speakers were Mayor Walter E. Washington and Francis W. White the new Metro board chairman.