Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Big Escalator News?

Yesterday afternoon, we saw several men--not Metro workers--looking very closely at the platform-to-mezzanine escalators at Federal Center SW. There are only two escalators there, one up, one down. They usually work, as do the three from the mezzanine to the street.

The men seemed concerned with the pylon that sits on the platform at the bottom of the escalators. Some were making sketches, while others talked about whether the pylon could be moved.

We decided to ask what was going on.

"We're gonna rip these escalators out and put in new ones," said one of them. "All up and down the Orange and Blue lines."

"All of the escalators?" we asked.

"Mostly the platform-to-mezzanine ones," he said.

That sounded like pretty big news considering Metro's escalator woes, so we asked Metro for the details such as cost, time lines, station names, etc.

Metro said it was "a survey of escalators as part of our Infrastructure Renewal Program," adding that several escalators on the Red Line will also be looked at.

"Escalators will be rehabbed, as in the past, however, several units will be completely replaced. Federal Center will be rehabs, a few units at Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle will be replaced," they said.

We asked for more information, but Metro declined.

"This is the beginning stages," they said. "Watch for press releases as the actual work begins."

Recent escalator posts:
Metro's failin'est escalator
Mythical escalator repairman
Escalator improvement: No we can't
Metro bottlenecks
What is wrong with the escalators?
Escalator forecast

Other items:
Metro to tap ex-NJ Transit chief as interim GM (WaPo)
Examiner story on new interim GM

Thomas Wilburn


Anonymous said...

Any word on when the canopies will be installed at Metro Center and Judicary Square?

Anonymous said...

They finally fixed the outdoor escelator at the College Park station. It had been out of service since mid-December.

Paul said...

With such a huge budget deficit I don't really see the need to keep fixing escalators that are more of a luxury than a necessity. Don't get me wrong, the escalators leading outdoors are most of the time very lengthy and should be serviced by what about the short platform to mezzanine ones? Why not just keep them off and have people walk the 10 steps. There is an elevator as well. I rather send the money to have my trains running on time.

Anonymous said...

The platform escalators are not the problem, its the mile-long street to mezzanine escalators that are the worst when they break down.

Anonymous said...

The escalator situation along my red line commute has been nothing short of a disaster. The platform escalator at Cleveland Park (which had been quite reliable!) was being rehabbed and was supposed to be done Feb. 11 - it had been closed for 3 months. It finally opened yesterday. One of the three mezzanine escalators has been out of service since mid-February and still has a sign on it saying it's returning to service Feb. 25. I've noticed similar situations at Woodley Park and Metro Center. Before taking on all this extra work, maybe Metro's escalator workers should try to finish on time what they've already signed up to do.

Anonymous said...

There are too many older stations that don't have steps as an option to go between Mezz and platform, such as Medical Center. Everyone has to bottle to go single file up and down one escalator when the other is out of service (often) because there are no stairs. Take out the escalators and make steps. $ saved, exercise is good.

Anonymous said...

“An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” - Mitch Hedberg

Anonymous said...

Those guys broke the Golden Rule of architects/engineers working in the field. Never answer questions about why you are there, just refer the curious people to the client.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, @Anonymous 10:13AM! Not that I’m not for using stairs instead of escalators, but perhaps we should figure out which escalators to rip out. I, for one, am not ready to have the one at Wheaton changed to stairs. Don’t get me wrong, I work out daily, but there are days where I don’t particularly even feel like walking up the moving escalator. Perhaps it’s my own doing. It used to be I could workout twice a day so walking up the escalator was a breeze, but now that I’ve scaled back my workout, I don’t “sail up” the escalator quite as quickly as I have in the past.

The only other observation about wanting to replace the escalators with stairs is that more people would be crowding onto elevators which also have a tendency to be out of service quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:35 -- Look again; I was referencing going from the mezzanine to the platform, not mezzanine to the surface street(s). I agree that long escalators from mezz to street such as Wheaton need to be there.

Anonymous said...

Alas.. Alas my asterisks the lone little New Carrollton escalator on the Ellin Road side is "not broken" but just needs the attendants to hit a button to get it working again as it apparently shuts down at the slightest indication of something bumping against the side. It never runs.

If it ain't broken I suppose it ain't gonna be in any fix list huh? I has a sad. ;)

Anonymous said...

There is no incentive to install modern, functional, reliable escalators. The repairmen racket won't tolerate having this massive patronage system running dry.

HRH King Friday XIII, Ret. said...

Information will be availabe "as work begins"??????????????????

No, no, no, no, no, no. This is NOT good. This is Metro speak for "we really don't have a plan or timetable which means you'll be waiting for us to finish installing these escalators for months if not years."

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a very long, system-wide escalator rehabilitation project just a few years ago? Now they have to repair the repairs?

Anonymous said...

Metro should really use this an opportunity to replace some (not all, just some!) of the escalators with stairs. Escalators are needed in many stations to go from the street to the mezzanine - the Red Line has a lot of deep stations are like that, for example. But there are many places where there are short escalators that could be replaced or supplemented by stairs.
Clarendon has a nice set of stairs in between the two escalators. They are great if an escalator is out of service, or just to handle peak crowds.
Ballston ought to be reconfigured like Clarendon - there are 3 escalators, and if they replaced the middle one with stairs, that would be one less to maintain. Also, the stairs can be used in both directions at the same time, so you don't have the problem of one down escalator and two up ones, or vice versa.
Judiciary Square really ought to have a set of stairs - the two escalators at each entrance there are spaced far apart, with the space between covered by metal sheets. A wide set of stairs could be put in between the escalators to handle rush-hour crowds, especially since one or both of the escalators is always broken at that station.
If Metro replaced maybe 25% of their shorter escalators with stairs, they could spend their entire escalator budget on the escalators that are really needed.

Anonymous said...

uh Anon 1:06? Some of us cannot use the stairs. At all. Please remember those of us not as (apparently) young and physically fit as you. Ballston is one stop I use every day, twice a day. I CANNOT walk those stairs and know better than to try. 911 would have to be on standby for me to even attempt it. Even "shorter" ones would be completely prohibitive to folks like me - and know I did not ask to be this way. God decided it for me. (Just wish I knew why. ;)

Anonymous said...

@1:19 - that's why they have elevators.

Anonymous said...

The escalators are just another example of Metro's long term failure. Sure, we all understand why they were put in, but that was an acceptable reason 30 years ago. As Metro was used more and evolved into something much more than the original designers had in mind, the "leadership" should have seen that so many escalators was untenable. Instead, they continued with the old model, and now we find ourselves with a problem that is, to use the parlance of the day, too big to fix.

You see this pattern over and over and over again with Metro, and here we are.

Anonymous said...

@10:13 & 10:47 -- Terribly sorry for my mistake! Thanks for pointing out my error to me!

Anonymous said...

Yeah Anon 1:36... they have elevators. Ever tried waiting for one during RUSH HOUR? Go try it out for a week. Let me know how cheerful you remain. If you believe "Elevators are for the encumbered. They dont need nor deserve modern technology like escalators" you are living in a world I hope to never visit. It sounds cruel, selfish and downright retro. Bet all people who think this way will immediately change their mind the first time they end up on crutches for just a few days. Get real. Think equal rights for all. (Where did I hear that line before? ;)

Anonymous said...

(To the Tune of “If all the Raindrops…”)

If all the Metro lines were candies and chocolates,

Oh what a Metro it would be.

I’d wait for my train,

for hours without complain.

(Ding Ding, Doors closing, Beep Beep, May I have your attention please)

Oh what a WMATA it would be.

If the Blue line were Almond Joy and the Orange Reese’s Cups,

Oh what a Metro Center it would be.

I’d travel all the way to L’Enfant

and eat Yellow line Butterfingers and Green Andes Mint without want.

(Ding Ding, I repeat doors closing, Beep Beep, Currently experiencing delays)

Oh what a Metro ride it would be.

If Purple line dark kisses and Silver line 3 Musketeers really existed

Oh what a miracle it would be.

I’d travel to Bethesda, College Park, and Tysons to play

Without having to ever get stuck on the Beltway.

(Ding Ding, Train offloading, Beep Beep, Delays continue)

Oh what a WMATA it would be.

If all of the Red line Raisins ran smoothly

Oh what a shock that would be.

I’d stop packing extra food

out of fear of spending Shabbat at Rhode Island Brentwood

(Ding Ding, Train out of service, Beep Beep, Above ground stations are closing)

Oh what a Metro that would be!

Anonymous said...

@4:28 - I do use the elevators EVERY DAY since I am a wounded 26 year old combat veteran who uses a wheel chair. Bet you feel like an idiot now, don't you. Come ride the elevators with me. I can't use escalators like people with legs, like you.

Anonymous said...

I hope they take a close look at expanding platform access at stations on the Red line. Many stations have only one point of access to the platform. Shady Grove, for example, has one access point from mezzazine to platform (2 escalators and 1 stair). Trains are often delayed in returning to Shady Grove because the platform is too crowded with people to disembark more passengers. This is ridiculous considering Shady Grove is one of the busiest stations in the Metro system (and it has more parking than any other metro station).

Station platforms should have at least two separate points of access. This is a simple matter of practicality and safety.

Anonymous said...

I never realized escalators were so high maintenance until I moved to DC

Anonymous said...

@ anon 1:19 - I'm sorry, I think the way I worded my post yesterday made my suggestion about Ballston unclear. When I suggested replacing the "middle" escalator with stairs, I meant they should configure the station like Clarendon, where there is an escalator on the left, stairs in the middle, and an escalator on the right. In other words, I meant in the "middle" horizontally, not in the middle vertically. I fully understand that some people cannot use even short flights of stairs, and I agree with you that escalators should be present at every level of the station to allow someone who cannot walk the stairs to get all the way from the platform to the street without having to climb stairs. I just think it would be smart if there was a set of stairs running parallel to the escalators, so some of us could use those and get out of the way of the people who really need the escalators. That would be good for everyone, don't you think?
- Anon 1:06

Anonymous said...

What is needed is stairs AND escalators. That's what Cap. South has.

Why not take the wasted space between the escalators and put stairs in there?

Stan's Computer said...

Metro's "safety is a big joke" attitude is also a major cause of escalator failures, as discovered by the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corp when they experimented with a 'stand to one side' program. (The program was scrapped as a result of a 5-fold increase in accidents.) The Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corp found that standing to one side greatly increased breakdowns and escalator failures.

The simple expedients of painting 2 inch boundary markings at the edges of the steps and increasing operating speed would substantially reduce equipment breakdowns and greatly enhance passenger safety.

Unfortunately, it's only taxpayer money.

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