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Posted at 9:28 AM ET, 11/10/2010

Escalator outage rate doubles

By Luke Rosiak

It hasn't just seemed like it: Metro's already-decried escalator outage rates, which generally hover around 10 to 12 percent, have gotten far worse this week, with a quarter of escalators out on the Red Line during this morning's rush hour.

The incident at L'Enfant Plaza during the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert rally, when an escalator's brakes failed, sending the stairway into a freefall for 18 seconds and injuring several, may lead to improvements in the long-run, as it prompted system-wide inspections. But for now, the inspections are only causing more headaches.

That's one observation from a new online tool from the Gridlock team for watchdogging Metro's performance--and maybe for making your commute a little easier, too.

The "Going up? Metro escalator watch" widget, which you can embed anywhere, provides a daily snapshot of escalator performance rates, by line as well as over time for the entire system.

It pinpoints broken "sets," cases where all sibling escalators, such as both of the two escalators running between many mezzanines and platforms, are broken, causing the potential for bottlenecks.

It highlights the worst-performing stations each morning, based on what percentage of its escalators are out. The worst offenders typically have less than half their escalators functioning.

And it flags newly broken-down vertical transport that was working yesterday, but at 8:30 today was out of service. (See the "Gallery Pl-Chinatown Escalator between middle landing and mezzanine; 7th and H Street/Chinatown Entrance"? That's the site of this accident last night, where a man was observed lying bloodied at the bottom of the escalator.)

The tool lives on our transportation home page, where you can also find a taxi fare calculator, traffic cameras and road incident reports from across the region, and a map and calendar of construction projects.

The transportation home is also your portal for the Washington Post's best recent long-form journalism, discussion boards and reader feedback, the latest posts from this blog, Dr. Gridlock, and links to series of stories about major projects.

The Post's tool comes after a recent independent audit flagged problems with Metro's escalator maintenance program, but the findings were no surprise to riders, who have huffed and puffed their way past crowds up stationary escalators and prompted a union to claim they could do better.

You can embed the widget on your site or blog with the following code (you can change the size):

The ups & downs of Metro | A look at Metro's escalators | Outages | The climb to fix Metro's escalators

By Luke Rosiak  | November 10, 2010; 9:28 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Escalators, Online tools  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Navigating northeast for holidays
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The central entrance (the outside entrance) of Union Station is a nightmare right now. No working escalator going up OR down. Escalators not blocked are turned off and being used as two-way stairs. Lame cakes.

Posted by: steampunk | November 10, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Regarding that Union Station entrance, don't forget that the elevator has been out for weeks, and will be for weeks more. And there is no stairs option.

Posted by: NickDanger | November 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

What is so different than any other day? If The WP didn't report this I would'nt of known it was business as usual for METRO.

Posted by: tsamm | November 10, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

How 'bout the outrage rate?

Posted by: clitteigh | November 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

1/4 escalators out? As always, Fire David Lacosse. At the very least it will send a message that it actually IS possible to get fired from Metro, and the era of no accountability are over.

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 10, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Question - how does one know if an escalator is broken or simply off?

I avoid Metro like the plague and today I rode from Van Ness to Farragut North to meet friends for lunch around mid day. I noticed half of the escalators were off. I know broken escalators usually have the big yellow "things" around them. Should I assume these stopped escalators were broken or simply turned off during a slow time of day?

When I used to use Metro regularly prior to 2007 the only time escalators weren't moving was if they were broken.

Posted by: Redial1 | November 10, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Another all time record set under Kubichek's leadership. Why will WMATA never learn?

Posted by: ryanc22032 | November 10, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

2 of the 3 platform escalators at Wheaton have been out of service for several days now...

Posted by: | November 10, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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