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Escalator report cited brake wear

By Michael Bolden

11:30 a.m. Update:

More on what the report says about brakes:

-- "Incorrectly adjusted and/or damaged brake systems"
-- "Summary: All escalator brakes have questionable stopping performance under no load with respect to their ability to stop and hold with full passenger load. I.e. no load stopping distances appear to be too long for the inertia mass brake systems utilized (to my knowledge) on these designs. Several units exhibit clear signs of wear in driving elements as reflected in the impacts occurring during (a) normal operation and (b) stopping."

Original post: The blog Unsuck DC Metro, located at, is reporting today that a recent report by a consultant hired to evaluate Metro's escalators cited worn brake pads as a problem in its findings to the transit agency.

Vertical Transportation Excellence recently conducted an assessment of Metro's escalator and elevator maintenance problems.

The report, ordered by Interim General Manager Richard Sarles in response to serious customer complaints about escalator outages, recommended that Metro hire a contractor to clean escalator pits, devise a plan to remove water, and add training on maintenance standards.

However, in a copy of the draft report obtained by Unsuck DC Metro, Vertical Transportation Excellence also mentions:

-- Brake pads worn beyond usable life expectancy and out of adjustment allowing unit to freewheel to stop.
-- Hoist ropes severely rouged [sic] and worn beyond acceptable life expectancy.

The preparation date of the draft is listed as Sept. 30. Metro released a summary of the findings in early October. The summary document (PDF) presented to the Customer Service and Operations Committee of Metro's board of directors Oct. 14 mentions several issues with the escalators but does not include the word "brakes." The audit reviewed 30 escalators and nine elevators at Woodley Park, Bethesda, Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom stations.

Metro decided last Thursday to inspect all 588 of its escalators after a malfunction at L'Enfant Plaza Station Oct. 30 during the Jon Stewart-Steven Colbert rally. A Metro official said a preliminary investigation blamed the incident on an oily brake pad that "showed brake pad wear" and a heavy passenger load. The metal staircase suddenly accelerated for about 18 seconds, sending a pile of people sprawling at the bottom and injuring 6 of them.

Last week Metro said it discovered a faulty brake at Gallery Place-Chinatown Station after a news report of an escalator problem prompted an inspection of all the escalators in that station.

Vertical Transportation Excellence is conducting an independent investigation of the breakdown at L'Enfant. The company is also supposed to conduct a review next year of how Metro has followed up on its recommendations.

By Michael Bolden  | November 8, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Please fire David Lacosse immediately. That is all.

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 8, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody looked beyond Metro's shoddy maintenance and checked into the quality of the design of the escalators themselves?

I mean after decades of escalator issues, it occurs to me that maybe there's more to all these issues than poor maintenance? Just wondering.

Posted by: WorkingDaddy | November 8, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Any updates on the conditions of the six people who were injured?

Posted by: DOEJN | November 8, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

David Lacosse is on vacation, paid vacation.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 8, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Metro lies, people die (or get seriously hurt). Nothing new here. Metro needs an employee overhaul from the top down. They ignore NTSB recommendations, they ignore consultants they hire, they ignore the general public, they even ignore the Federal government. Who is supposed to protect the public using their unsafe trains, escalators, and buses? Are we just on our own out here?

Posted by: rwalker66 | November 8, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

This will just confirm all the worst doubts about Metro's commitment to safety and reliability. What a train wreck this once-great system has become.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | November 8, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Metro is all about keeping its current workers employed. That is all.

Posted by: Aerowaz | November 8, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments on the workers posted so far.

It's all about it isn't my job and doing the least they can in the most amount of time.

It's a travesty and a slap in the face to riders that these workers have no pride in their workmanship and routine maintenance.

There are plenty of people out of work that would gladly work to improve safety on the Metro.

How about firing the whole bunch and replacing them with workers who actually give a d-mn!

Posted by: Badger21 | November 8, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Hats off to the Post for having the decency to credit the story, unlike WJLA (ABC7), which ripped it off.

Posted by: unsuckdcmetro | November 8, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Hats off to the Post for having the decency to credit the story, unlike WJLA (ABC7), which ripped it off.

Posted by: unsuckdcmetro | November 8, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

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