Of the hundreds of people squished onto Saturday’s first Silver Line train, only one had an assigned seat: operator Detrick Washington. The 47-year-old D.C. native, who’s worked for Metro for 12 years, was also tapped to operate the special train that delivered a car full of VIPs to the opening ceremony earlier in the morning.
What was his reaction when his supervisor told him he’d been selected for this high-profile gig?
“I was astounded. And then nervous and excited,” said Washington, although he didn’t exhibit any jitters after safely dropping off Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and a host of other dignitaries.
“The key thing was knowing I had a job to do. Get them there,” Washington said. (McAuliffe offered a glowing review in his remarks, saying that the train had been both “smooth” and “on time.”)
Washington knows this route better than almost anyone at Metro. He’s been training other operators in how to handle the new 11.7-mile stretch of track — teaching them how to maneuver out of the yard, navigate the curves and pronounce the station names.
“Instead of ‘Mack-Leen,’ it’s ‘Micklane,’ ” he noted.
After making the trip so many times, Washington has even decided on a favorite view: It’s right at Spring Hill, where he can fantasize about buying something from the Aston Martin dealership.
He didn’t need a luxury sports car to attract attention Saturday. As the Wiehle-Reston East station opened for business, the most dedicated passengers pushed their way to the front, pressing against the glass behind Washington to snap photos and shoot videos.
“This is the first Silver Line train to Largo Town Center,” he announced to hollers from the crowd. “Welcome aboard!”
There were a few hiccups along the 75-minute journey to Maryland, including a brief pause shortly after starting off. That didn’t seem to matter to those on board, many just along for the historic ride.
And Washington remained as cool as ever as he manned the levers. After pulling into the final station, he summed up the experience in one word: “Fun.”
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