(Ben Claassen III/For Express)

At the very front of the very first car of the very first Silver Line train on Saturday, I met some serious transit fans. And all of them were way shorter than me.

“I’m a Metro geek,” proudly proclaimed Duncan Richards, 9, who was carrying a yellow poster he’d made in honor of the occasion. A letter he sent to Metro had scored him Silver Line hand sanitizer, a Frisbee and other swag, plus tickets for him and his dad to go to the opening ceremony. (“He’s the one with the connections,” Steven Richards said as he pulled on the VIP badge around his neck.)

The Richards live near the Glenmont station, but Duncan is certain he’ll be visiting the new Silver Line stops a lot. In exchange for getting to ride, he said, he’ll just have to suffer through shopping trips with his mom.

There’s a good chance he’ll wind up next to Jaden Knueven again. The 10-year-old Reston resident had dragged his parents to the Wiehle-Reston East station that morning. “We were the first in line, and we stood there for 2½ hours,” Jaden told me. (His mom and dad just offered pained smiles in response.)

Completing the prepubescent pack was 10-year-old Joshua Hirschfeld of Columbia, Md. Since the age of 6, he’s been driving subway simulators on his computer. And the family can’t visit a new city without experiencing its transit system “end to end,” added his dad, Steven.

This youthful exuberance isn’t just adorable. It’s also justified. If anyone should be thrilled by Metro’s progress, it’s elementary school students.

When the time comes to start looking at colleges, they’ll be able to ride new rail cars out to Dulles. When they’re ready to join the workforce, Tysons, may actually resemble a walkable, bikable place. And when they have young kids of their own, Metro could be implementing the 2040 plan, which calls for trains running through Georgetown and a loop around downtown.

Duncan, who hopes to grow up to be a part-time Metro operator and part-time lawyer, dreams that he’ll get to drive that new train. If he does, I’ll make sure I’m at the very front of the very first car — even if I need to use a cane to get there.


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