At 7:02 a.m. yesterday, as the snow swirled in the darkness and bitter cold, I boarded a warm and nearly-empty subway car for the longest Metro ride - the trip from National Airport in Virginia to Silver Spring in Maryland.

I am one of those people who likes to drive. But this trip was an unexpected pleasure. No skidding tires on slick roads, no Beltway speed traps, no reckless pedestrians and no lane-jockeying by daring rush-hour commuters.

In 12 minutes I was in Rosslyn; in 20, at Metro Center, where the train operator announced the transfer from the Blue Line to the Red Line and "Silver Springs" (he'll learn in time it is "Silver Spring").

Eighteen minutes after a quick transfer to a waiting train - or 40 minutes in all - I stepped out onto the Silver Spring platform.

A car trip the same distance would have taken about the same time either through the District or around the Beltway. But there is no question, when the choice is reading, resting and avoiding the snow, Metro is the more pleasant trip.

About the same time I left home, Richard Williams was boarding a bus in Springfield for a cross-town bus-subway trip (he boarded the subway at the Pentagon) to Takoma Park near the northern peak of the District.

"I would have driven if it hadn't been for the snow," confessed Williams.

He had looked at a map and saw that his destination - Walter Reed Army Medical Center - was close to the Takoma Station. In 62 minutes and for $1.70, he was in Takoma. "It was great," he said. "No waiting."

Fannie Boisbert of Wheaton was nearly beside herself as she boarded the train in Silver Spring for Rosslyn, where she works. "Oh, I've been waiting for this day," she exclaimed.

"My husband drove me down from Wheaton. It took about 10 minutes. It was simple. I' so excited." she said, fubling with her farecard. Ever since they opened the station in Rosslyn, I've been so jealous."