- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Metro debuted its new voice yesterday, winning rave reviews from riders on the commuter rail.

The voice belongs to Randi Miller of Woodbridge, Va.

“I can’t even tell you how this feels,” said Miss Miller, a manager at a Northern Virginia car dealership.

Publicity generated since she won the contest last month has made her a local celebrity as “the voice of Metro.” A cashier at a grocery store recognized her voice after hearing TV and radio coverage, Miss Miller said.

“For years, I mimicked the ‘doors closing’ lady because it was funny, but I never dreamed I would be doing this,” Miss Miller, 44, said. She recalled skipping school in Kensington on March 27, 1976, when the first 4.6 miles of the Red Line opened between Rhode Island Avenue and Farragut North for free preview rides. Regular service began two days later.

“We couldn’t wait to get on the subway; it was a big deal. New York had a subway; D.C. didn’t have a subway,” she said.

Commuters on one Yellow Line train were the first to hear the digital recording of Miss Miller saying, “Doors opening. Step back so customers may exit. When boarding, move to the center of the car.”

The audio instructions came after a new chime tone, which is delivered in a pitch different than the one used in the past decade.

“Her voice projection is very clear, distinctive and ear-catching, ” said Alvina Woodson of District Heights. She said she likely would pay closer attention to the announcements than she has in the past.

“It’s a pleasant tone; the other announcements made you rush more. I like it,” said Lisa Palmer of Alexandria.

With ridership increasing and more eight-car trains being added to the system, platforms and trains are getting increasingly crowded.

“I don’t know whether it will shake riders up, but this will be a little bit different, so maybe people will respond differently,” said Dan Tangherlini, Metro’s interim general manager.

The new chimes will be installed on trains operating throughout the 106.1-mile system by late spring.

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