Rider reports Vienna escalator mishap
A Metrorail rider said she was waiting to step aboard a crowded escalator at Vienna Station Saturday night when she was startled to see the escalator and the crowd descending back toward her.
Melissa Plotkin of Silver Spring said she and the other passengers waiting at the bottom hopped out of the way of the escalator passengers as they came back down. No one appeared to be hurt, she said.
"I was waiting in line to get on the escalator and jumped to the side when I realized everyone was heading back towards me," Plotkin wrote in a comment to my online chat today. "People starting yelling, 'Back up! Back up!' because the crowd waiting to board [the escalator] needed to get out of the way, fast. The escalator was moving slowly enough that it didn't look like anyone lost balance, but there was potential for a lot of people to get hurt. It was a scary situation."
Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said in an e-mail that he had no report of such an incident on Saturday night, but based on the information from Plotkin, "we are sending a team to check out the escalators on the platform at Vienna." Metro has been inspecting all of its 588 escalators in the wake of a brake failure that allowed a crowded escalator at L'Enfant Plaza to slide dangerously on Oct. 30. The escalator/elevator status page on Metro's Web site indicates that a platform escalator is out of service for a safety inspection.
Plotkin told me in an interview that she didn't see anyone injured in the incident, which occurred at about 7:25 p.m. as she got off a crowded train from downtown Washington. She said the train might have been crowded at that hour because Metro had been doing track work on that part of the Orange Line. Some trains were terminating at West Falls Church, where passengers had to wait trains like her, bound for the end of the line at Vienna.
Plotkin was looking straight ahead at the fully loaded escalator. It was so crowded, she said, that she can't be absolutely certain that the steps were moving up, rather than standing still, but it appeared to be moving up. She's certain that the steps suddenly started moving down. "Everyone was startled," she said.
"It was so crowded that if someone had lost balance, there was nowhere to fall. The person behind could have just held them up. The main danger zone was the line of people waiting to get onto the escalator, who all had to get out of the way very quickly."
But since everyone appeared to be all right, she began looking for another way off the platform and found an escalator that was going up on a different part of the platform. She took that to the top and left the station. Plotkin said she didn't hear any commotion on the way out.
We have no other reports from riders about this incident. If you were a witness, please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll update this posting with any news from Metro.
| November 15, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail
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