Metro's two new subway stations at Forest Glen and Wheaton passed the first weekday commuting test yesterday with flying colors, although some walkers found the trip to the Forest Glen station near Georgia Avenue and the Capital Beltway overpass hazardous.
"It went very, very well," said Metro spokeswoman Beverly Silverberg. During yesterday's morning rush hour period from 5:30 to 9:30, more than 2,100 commuters boarded subway trains at the Wheaton station, and 800 climbed aboard at Forest Glen, Silverberg said.
In about six months, as commuters become more familiar with the new stations and parking facilities, Metro expects an additional 12,000 riders daily, Silverberg said. As of last May, the Silver Spring station, one terminus of the Red line until now, recorded 15,700 daily trips by commuters, she said.
For most subway riders yesterday, the 3.2-mile extension of the Red Line was a timesaver and a convenience. But for others, the walk to Forest Glen station was a bit precarious.
"It's an obvious hazard," said Paul Toppins, referring to the four access ramps from Interstate 495 at Georgia Avenue. "Somebody is going to be hit or rear-ended."
Toppins, who walked to the Forest Glen station yesterday, said fast-moving traffic and blind spots have created a dangerous combination in the vicinity of the access ramps.
"You can't see the cars coming around the turn," he said. "It's also difficult for the cars to see pedestrians when they're going 40 to 45 miles per hour."
State and county transportation officials said they were concerned.
"There is no easy solution with six to eight lanes of traffic and people walking across the street," said Robert McGarry, Montgomery's director of transportation. McGarry said officials are "open to solutions" for improvements.
Toppins said the situation seemed designed to discourage pedestrians. "People are going to walk, and unless they put up a wall, they should try to make it safer and more orderly for pedestrians and motorists."
Other commuters, though, saw only convenience at the new stations.
Nearly 20 minutes after leaving work at Washington Hospital Center, Vida Walters stepped through the Farecard turnstile at the Forest Glen station.
"Before this station opened, I had to take three buses to work," said Walters. "The buses would run late, and it would take me more than hour to get there. I couldn't work some schedules because of the buses."
Many of the riders at the two new stations previously caught the bus or drove to the Silver Spring station.
"This is much closer to my home," said Tawanda Johnson as she entered the Wheaton station en route to her job in Alexandria. "I don't have to get up as early now."