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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 11/18/2010

Metro wrestles with escalator issue

By Ann Scott Tyson

[This post has been updated]

Metro's board of directors tyson.gifwrestled Thursday morning with how to tackle Metro's perennial escalator problems, with some members expressing frustration at the agency's seeming inability to solve the issue.

A recent independent audit uncovered widespread deficiencies in Metro's escalator brakes as well as a lack of adherence to escalator maintenance standards. The report suggests that the failure of the moving staircase at L'Enfant Plaza that injured six people last month was not an isolated problem but an accident waiting to happen, escalator experts have said.

Metro undertook an inspection of all if its 588 escalators as concerns over escalator safety have mushroomed. According to officials, 568 escalators have been inspected, 40 brakes have been replaced; 10 brakes were found to be oily. A total of 156 16 escalators with worn brake pads were placed out of service. Twenty escalators were not checked because they are undergoing major overhauls but will be examined before returning to service, officials said.

An investigation found that all three brakes were compromised on the L'Enfant Plaza escalator that failed. One brake had "oily dirty" pads, one showed brake pad wear "down to the metal" and one had a lose screw and "erratic performance," Metro staff told board members Thursday.

Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles said Metro's escalator problems come down to a need for "basic, good maintenance."

"Until we do [maintenance[ right, we will just have problems we shouldn't have," Sarles said.

Asked by board member Jim Graham if he were surprised by the number of problems uncovered, Sarles said, "We shouldn't have a number like that."

Sarles said Metro has considered replacing 400 escalators, but that "will cost you a lot of money" -- $1 million each -- and time.

Metro Assistant General Manager Dave Kubicek told the board Metro is trying to hire more supervisors and is increasing training of technicians.

"These are basically mechanical problems," said board member Mortimer L. Downey. "We shouldn't have to get an exorcist in."

Related stories:

The ups and downs of Metro

Metro brings in escalator consultant

Down on Metro's escalator problems

The climb to fix Metro's escalators

Metro riders fume over escalator problems

Metro warned of 'questionable' escalator brakes before accident

Safety issues found on dozens of escalators

Escalators used by Metro have history of trouble

By Ann Scott Tyson  | November 18, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

Is it that freaking hard to realize that its time to fire David Lacosse? Kubicek too!

Good lord! How many of these screwups is metro going to tolerate? Lacosse is in over his head. It is beyond obvious. Enough is enough already! FIRE LACOSSE!

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 18, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

What makes Lacosse qualified for this job in the first place?

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 18, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Lacosse? He wasn't quoted in this post. Why would you want to fire someone who is apparently on a long-term paid vacation?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 18, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

getjiggly: EXACTLY MY POINT

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

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