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Dupont escalators down again

Depending on Escalators | The ups and downs of Metro |
Metro brings in escalator consultant | Outages

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11:45 a.m. Update: Now the disruptions are showing three escalators out at Dupont, two at Q Street and one at Dupont South.

9:05 a.m. Update: It's starting again. The Dupont Circle south entrance escalators are out of service, according to a Red Line alert. The transit authority has requested shuttle buses.

8:10 a.m. Update: @POPTDC sent us this photo taken at Ballston on Monday.

"As I was exiting Ballston yesterday I found 2 out of the 3 upper level escalators out of order: Left was blocked for maintenance, Middle was set to "down", and Right was stairs for a flood of rush-hour patrons to climb up.

Ballston has had escalator problems on and off for months now. And don't even get me started on the morning heat on the platform."

Today it appears that two out of the three escalators to the street are working, according to Metro's Web site.

Original post: Monday was a trial for anyone trying to exit the Dupont Circle Station during the morning or evening commute. Broken escalators and smoke emanating from the machinery turned the trek up into daylight into an ordeal.

Currently, Metro's Web site lists two escalators as being out of service at the Q Street entrance and one as being out of service at the Dupont Circle South entrance. Around the system, the disruption lists shows 66 escalators being out of service as of 7:30 a.m. That's about 11 percent of the 588 escalators in the system.

Some of the biggest trouble spots include Tenleytown-AU Station, where 50 percent of the escalators are out of service; Foggy Bottom-GWU, 50 percent out of service; Brookland-CUA, where two of the four are out of service; and Bethesda, where both of the escalators between the mezzanine and the platform are out of service;

What are you seeing and experiencing? Post a comment below or e-mail us at If you have photos or video, let us know.

By Michael Bolden  | July 13, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Every single day, the up escalator is broken at Pentagon station. And seemingly, every single day I get stuck behind some fat person wobbling up the steps and miss my connecting train.

Posted by: igotstripes | July 13, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

My understanding is that it is Metro policy since at least 2002 that when there is a broken escalator in a Metro station, that the remaining escalator must be set to be going up.

Posted by: hohandy | July 13, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The platform escalators in Bethesda have been undergoing repair for the past few months now. I've heard people shouting at others for cutting the line, and I've even seen the line run halfway back platform with even more people trying to make their way up from the forward part of the train. There is rarely anyone working on the escalator, I think I might have seen a person or two there 3-4 times - I use the station twice a day during rush hour. It's absurd for Metro to leave the escalators out of service for so long.

Posted by: mindthedot | July 13, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

the dupont situation sucks, but can we please have a story on the EXTREME safety hazard that is happening at bethesda, van ness, and certainly other stations on the red line? as mindthedot said, they have closed off one of the two mezz-platform escalators, leaving every traveler to go both up and down the same broken escalator. it is a nightmare and a safety hazard of the highest order. i hope that there is not an emergency because many people would be trampled trying to escape. the line that forms when trains unload is insane.

Posted by: nativetexan2 | July 13, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

On Monday, the station manager at the Q Street exit informed us that the sole working elevator -- out of 5 -- would ONLY work in the down mode. Today, it was the sole working elevator going up. Apparently, the Monday statement was not true.

On Monday, the person with whom I spoke at Metro HQ said that announcements had been made about the outages -- a lie; that shuttle buses had been announced and made available -- a lie. She also told me that the problem had started "hours earlier" than my 9am experience. And that it was okay that the only working elevator was heading into the station as the trains were still running and people could get into the station. In other words, they only care about getting customers into the station, getting their fares, and on to the trains; what happens when you get to destination is your problem.

Posted by: McDP | July 13, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The people of this city are sad. I grew up here, but have lived in a few other cities. The cries about fare hikes and the cries about escalators is truely trival. Metro still runs better than almost every transit system in a major metropolis area and the fares are some of the lowest in the nation. If your not elderly or handi-cap, get over your lazy self and deal with it.

Posted by: rlee4033 | July 13, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

As nativetexan2 pointed out. What it will end up taking for Metro to finally get their management's heads out of their collective a@@es is for some catastrophic situation to occur and nobody can get out of the station due to poorly/inadequately maintained escalators and elevators.

The response of the station manager regarding the elevator only going down appears to be yet another indication of the flippant attitude that Metro personnel have for their customers. If the elevator only goes down, then exactly how is it being used to transfer passengers? Once the elevator is down, exactly how does it come back up to take more passengers down? It either works in both directions or it doesn't.

Posted by: mika_england | July 13, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey Rlee, you should re-check your facts or come along my commute. A total distance of 3.3 miles listed on trip planner as 25 minutes; in reality takes 55 minutes or roughly 3.6 miles per hour. Google maps lists the time to walk as 1 hour and 8 minutes; however most people walk at an average of 4 miles per hour.

Posted by: igotstripes | July 13, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

As mindthedot pointed out, the platform-mezz escalators have been out for months at this point and one has always been blocked. It's a serious safety hazard to have people walking up and down on one escalator, but metro seems to have no intention of solving the problem.

Posted by: kjhdc | July 13, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Rlee - what planet do live on? This is the single worst transit system in the US. I am from NY, and that subway system leaves this in the dust. Metro is a total disaster, run by criminals/incompetents, and an embarrassment to the nations capital. Like many other things here in DC.

Posted by: Trout1 | July 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock:

Please stop citing Metro's website as gospel for the number of escalators out of service. It has been firmly established that the official out of service count is a lie. Citing Metro's own numbers should come with a disclaimer that the likely number of escalators out of service is several times higher.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 13, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The Bethesda Metro has been out for months! I have waited 15 minutes in a line that snaked nearly to the end of the platform. This is really unacceptable. The new fare hikes is costing me $8 a day to commute to work, and I cannot even get a working escalator?

With escalator and other outages all around DC, I find it morally reprehensible that WMATA would have the audacity to raise fares when they're already doing such a poor job maintaining their facilities.

Posted by: aed80044 | July 13, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse


There is a difference between "elevator" and "escalator". Learn it. Use it.

Posted by: ceebee2 | July 13, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"The Bethesda Metro has been out for months! I have waited 15 minutes in a line that snaked nearly to the end of the platform. "

Well this is an exaggeration if I have ever heard one. I have been timing the line, and the other day it took 1 minute and 40 seconds to get from the end of the line (that reached 2/3 of the way down the platform) to reach the escalator. That time would have been shorter if people didn't butt in line right at the escalator. I always make an example of these people and yell at them to get to the back of the line and wait their turn. Honestly, 1st graders can grasp the concept of getting in line and waiting your turn. Why adults cannot do the same is beyond me. But I will continue to scold these "adults" as loudly as possible. I hope you feel quite embarrassed by your behavior. If you can't spend a couple of minutes waiting in line, then don't take the train anymore.

As for calling the situation dangerous, it is far from that. Many other platforms in the Metro system are significantly more dangerous than the Bethesda platform (I'm looking at you Gallery Place and Metro Center). Inconvienence, yes, but dangerous, not at all.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | July 13, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

""The Bethesda Metro has been out for months! I have waited 15 minutes in a line that snaked nearly to the end of the platform. "

Well this is an exaggeration if I have ever heard one. I have been timing the line, and the other day it took 1 minute and 40 seconds to get from the end of the line (that reached 2/3 of the way down the platform) to reach the escalator."

Well, if the two of you aren't talking about the same time, then both of you can be right.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 13, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I love it! Keep the pressure on! Make the workers do their work instead of wearing glowing vests and packing heat!


Posted by: bs2004 | July 13, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, can we get past the "not have escalators is dangerous!" argument? Here are two simple facts: when humans gather in confined spaces, there is always a risk that in an emergency, people will be trampled as everyone flees. This is even true in big public spaces like parks or plazas. I guarantee you that a fleeing crowd from movie theatre could not all get out the three or four emergency exit doors in a calm, orderly manner either. So yes, you could get trampled if there is an emergency. Anywhere. Even Metro stations. Move on.

As for the comments about how people die of heart attacks from climbing escalators, yes, this has happened, once, on this system. And likely others as well. People have also dropped dead of heart attacks on golf courses, baseball stadiums, hotel rooms, office buildings, driveways, and on staircases in single family homes across America. People die. Not to dismiss the personal tragedy of the death to the people who knew the departed, but someone who dies going up a staircase (or borken escalator) would likely have died at roughly the same age playing recreational sports, having sex, running to catch a bus, or playing with their children at the park. Yet, nobody would sue the athletic field, mattress company, bus operator, or park service in those cases. Yes, it is a tragedy, and horribly unfortunate, but if you would prefer to live your life in a bubble or padded room, you are free to do so. You might still get hit by lightning, mauled by bears, or impaled by falling debris from SkyLab anyway.

It's Metro's obligation to provide working trains from point A to point B. It's your obligation, at your own risk, to get to and from those trains.

Posted by: hill_guy | July 13, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Sorry WashingtonDame, I should have included a time. I get off at Bethesda metro station anytime between 8am and 9:30am, so prime rush hour time. 1 minute 40 secs is the longest I have waited since I started timing (3 weeks ago). While I do not time in the evening, I leave from that station anytime between 5pm and 6:30pm, and the line reaches roughly the same distance. I could see possibly a 3 minute wait (if you are in line and another train or 2 disembarks and people cut the line again), but 15 is a huge exaggeration based on my experiences.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | July 13, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Daily Metro riders can pinpoint which escalators are chronically broken at the stations they regularly use. For example, at Union Station, the "up" escalator from the mezzanine next to the entrance to food court, repeatedly breaks down.

Similarly, at Shady Grove, the escalator from the mezzaine to the MD355 side of the station is routinely broken. Furthermore, many esclators that usually work, have numerous burnt out lights next to the steps.

Metro needs to ask riders which escalators are regularly broken.

I agree and disagree w/some of the points above. First, entering and exiting stations is part of the "getting/to from" function that Metro provides. When someone is hurt, Metro gets sued, not DC or the city where the accident occurred.

Also, if the escalators weren't part of the getting to/from responsibility, Metro wouldn't have to provide shuttle service to/from stations for patrons w/disabilities.

As to reliability and cost, I disagree. Example: The subway in New York is a bargain -- especially because monthly passes are available. Furtermore, the system has a flat fare -- even for express subways routes -- and the subway trains are quite reliable, much improved over the late 70s and early 80s. In fact, the newest NYC subway cars are much more advanced than Metros rail cars. Most cities have recorded announcements in subway and light rail cars now.

The base fare in other cities, e.g., Boston, SF, Chicago, etc. is quite low for subway riders -- especially for unlimited monthly pass riders. The subway and El in Philadelphia are extremely reliable, and with the monthly pass quite affordable.

Also, the trains here are capable of least 69 mph or perhaps 79 mph, while they are limited to only 59 mph -- even under automatic control, thus, unnecessarily lengthening trips.

I subscribe to Metro's press releases. I have noticed that the Post frequently quotes the press releases verbatim. I think that Dr. Gridlock ought to be an advocate for Metro riders, loudly demanding much better service, goading local governments and riders to fight back. Unfortunately, he seems to defend Metro way too much.

Posted by: RockvilleBear | July 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Metro's slogan is "Metro Opens Doors." I'd prefer it to be "Metro Fixes Escalators," but then they would be sued for deceptive advertising.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | July 13, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

What's happening with Metro constructing canopies over all of the subway entrances? There is a canopy over the Columbia Heights escalator and canopies over several other stations. Why hasn't Metro done that at Dupont Circle?

Dupont Circle has the longest, most troubling escalator. It seems to need protection from the elements more than most. What's taking Metro so long to cover Dupont Circle's escalators?

Posted by: soulshadow55 | July 13, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Imagine how the more complex parts of the Metro system are being managed.

Metro train riders should be scared. Very scared.

Posted by: ThrityYearResident | July 13, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Idea: why doesn't metro simply get rid of elevators and replace them with stairs, as in London's tube? Then people might stop complaining and, better yet, lose a little weight.

Posted by: lwoodville | July 13, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The escalator breakdowns seem to be getting worse. The Dupont situation is ridiculous.

And Hill_Guy, I run 3 to 5 miles daily. With the heat and humidity we've been having, I was pretty out of breath by the time I got to the top of Q St exit of Dupont Circle yesterday. A lot of people were having to pause and catch their breath. I was really worried about some of the elderly passengers trying to make their way up (bcs the elevator wasn't working either). Weather like this aggravates asthma. So you're saying it's people's fault if they have health problems or are old?

Posted by: Elkay1 | July 13, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

In response to rlee4033: Just because other systems are worse (your unproven statement) and charge more money does not excuse our Metro system. We should hold Metro accountable for what goes wrong with the system. We shouldn't merely stand by and take what they give us. You may be flush with cash, but a lot of folks are barely getting by these days, and have to rely on Metro to get them to work on time at a reasonable percentage. Metro holds the riders accountable when it's in a budget crunch by increasing fares, and in turn they should provide us with the service we deserve. It probably doesn't matter to most of us right about now what other cities are doing wrong; especially when we are climbing over escalators to escape the heat and smoke from an underground location.

Posted by: Carol7701 | July 13, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

The "up" escalator near the front of the train on the lower platform at Rosslyn during evening rush hour is almost never in working condition or turned on (never sure with Metro). Yet, the "down" escalator at that same end of the platform almost always is. What sense does this make?

Posted by: therapidone | July 13, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Rlee - what planet do live on? This is the single worst transit system in the US. I am from NY, and that subway system leaves this in the dust. Metro is a total disaster, run by criminals/incompetents, and an embarrassment to the nations capital. Like many other things here in DC.

Posted by: Trout1 | July 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse
Yeah, the NY subways are great. Especially if you're into graffiti, dirt, winos, and crime.

Posted by: sonny2 | July 13, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@Elkay1: I'm glad to hear that you're in such excellent shape, and understanding of the fact that you too trouble with exercise in these temperatures. And no, I'm not saying that it's anyone's fault that they are old, ill, or otherwise disabled. I'm simply stating that everyone is eventually going to die of something, and that anyone can die anywhere. Someone in ill health or of such an age where they are unable to climb stairs is likely also in ill enough health that they would succumb to their illness while engaging in other activities such as those I listed. Therefore, saying it is "dangerous" to not have escalators is a poor argument. It is dangerous to some extent to do pretty much everything, and we accept that risk as part of being human.

Posted by: hill_guy | July 13, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Carol7701. Metro needs to be held accountable for their failures. I believe that metro only cares about money and not about their passengers.

Posted by: akschrecengost | July 14, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Metro also needs escalators because there aren't enough stairs. A closed escalator requires 3-4 staircases to move the same volume of people.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 14, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

“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

Posted by: scjelli23 | July 14, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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