Metro rail is ramping up for a major change. In just three weeks, Rush+ service starts. That means different routes along the Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue lines. Thousands of maps and signs all have to be changed to make sure passengers are headed in the right direction. It's a process that started in April.
The maps and signs come in different shapes and different sizes. They are being churned out non-stop to make sure they are up by June 18.
"We have a full schedule set up between now and the end of June to remove old signs and install new signs," said Bruce Wallace, Metro's plant superintendent.
Some trains on the Orange line will now go to Largo Town Center, which is on the Blue line. On the Yellow line, some trains will now go from Springfield-Franconia (on the Blue line) to Greenbelt (on the Green line). The changes will only be during rush hour, the reason it is called Rush+.
"What we're telling people [is] to pay attention to which train they're getting on, not only the color of the line they're getting on, but the destination," said Richard Sarles, Metro's CEO and General Manager.
If it sounds confusing, it could be. That is why Metro plans on a campaign of e-alerts, mass media and other measures to get the word out in the coming weeks.
"It may cause some confusion at first, but eventually the people that ride Metro will get used to it," said Quentin Roby, a D.C. student who rides Metro.
When the service starts, Metro will also have extra staff at stations to help answer questions and make sure people get where they need to go.
Tom Klein, who in town from Honolulu, Hawaii, believes visitors like him will figure it all out, too.
"If you can read the map, you should be able to figure it out right," he said.
In all, 6,341 signs will be replaced - 5,020 on trains and 1321 other signs. All of them, except for 199 Braille signs, are being made by Metro.
Each map for instance has 13 colors, which must be printed one at a time. That is why Metro started the last week of April.
There are also multiple shades in different colors, three shades of gray, three shades of green and two shades of blue. To clear up any confusion, the workers had to label each color with different names. There is River for one shade of blue, National Mall for a shade of green and Beltway gray.
"Every color uses a separate screen. So if we have 13 colors, 13 screens," explained Wallace.
Signs on pylons and walls are made of metal. They have to be cut, printed and mounted. But what is the final step to hang them up? Wallace let us in on the secret.
"We have a very strong double-sided tape that holds it in place," he said.
It is not your usual store-bought tape.
"I'd defy you to take it off," Wallace said.
Some signs have already been placed in stations, with a special sticker explaining the maps don't take effect until June 18. With so many signs, there is just no way to do it all in one weekend.