Metro says its new StationView will allow riders to take virtual tours of subway stations like the one above, allowing them to plan their trip more easily, particularly if they have special mobility needs. (Fredrick Kunkle/The Washington Post)

Metro riders — or at least some of its most passionate users and abusers with Twitter handles — took a dim view of the transit agency’s latest service: the ability to offer interactive virtual tours of several subway stations.

Metro said Friday that its new StationView tool allows readers to go underground using the agency’s website or Google Maps for a peek at six stations: Union Station, Judiciary Square, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center, Archives and L’Enfant Plaza.

“StationView is an example of how we are creating new, innovative ways to better serve our customers,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a written statement. “This feature will make it easier for visitors, occasional riders, and people with special mobility needs, to plan their trip on Metro."

The agency, which said virtual tours are a first for U.S. rail systems, expects to outfit all 91 stations by the end of the year.

The early reviews of StationView were cruel, however, at least among Twitter users.

“This took budget priority over more trains, more 8-car trains, and working escalators?” one asked.

And people were just warming up.

In response to questions about its cost, Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said the agency has spent about $163,000 on the project so far.

“Station photography for the first six stations is included in this amount, but represents a relatively small portion of the amount,” she said in an email. She added that the agency has asked for bids to complete the remaining 85 stations and, because that procurement is under way, could not provide an estimate of those costs at the moment because doing so could influence the bidding.

--This post has been updated to add the cost of StationView and correct a previous version that said the new service offers a look at the stations in real-time.

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