Metro: We learned from Dupont fiasco
Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn reported to the Metro board today on the July 12 incident at Dupont Circle involving out-of-service escalators and smoke in the station, and Metro acknowledged recurring problems with its escalators and laid out plans for dealing with such situations.
"Many [escalators] are more than 30 years old and are functioning under ridership levels that were not contemplated when they were originally installed. Throughout the years, the escalators have been subjected to extreme conditions and not kept in a state of good repair," Metro said in a statement.The agency described strategies for dealing with crowd control, including simply closing stations when long escalators are out, and developing an "educational campaign to inform people of the dangers of using a barricaded unit."
As seen in widely-viewed images, Taborn said that the escalator people were using on the 19th Street side was under repair and had been blocked by a Metro warning barrier. That barrier was removed, probably by a rider, as people tried to get out of the station while the escalators on the Q Street side of the station were blocked off.
People then began walking up the shutdown escalator without realizing that they were going to encounter a gap in the escalator steps toward the top. That's why they had to hop over to the adjacent escalator, Taborn said.
"In the future, MTPD will dispatch additional officers to stations without escalator service to assist with crowd control," Metro said in a statement. It said Metro Transit Police radios did not work well in the Dupont station--seemingly a serious technical problem for a police force assigned to many underground, concrete stations--so they will now use mobile phones and in-person messengers when necessary "until the issue is resolved."
It noted that $5 million has been allocated to install brand new escalators at Dupont and Wheaton stations next year, and that it hired an escalator consultant to bring "fresh eyes" to the situation. The current Dupont repairs will be complete by next month, it said.
It said it would use new signage to increase communication with customers about escalator statuses, and keep Metro executives better informed.
--Bob Thomson and Luke Rosiak
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