Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Transportation Home  |  Discussions  |  Traffic  |  Columns  |  Q&A     |      Twitter |    Facebook   |  phone Alerts

Rider reports Vienna escalator mishap

By Robert Thomson

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 or We'll update this posting with any news from Metro.

By Robert Thomson  | November 15, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: DC2NY adds service from NoVa
Next: Dealing with Thanksgiving airport security


This morning on Twitter there were also two different individuals at two different stations -- Dupont South and Farragut West -- who reported screeching halts on loaded, moving escalators. Both are visible @unsuckdcmetro.

Posted by: EtoilePB | November 15, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

We're all going to DIE

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 15, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse


There have always been screeching halts on loaded escalators during the school season -- teens push the emergency stop buttons and run away (I've had it happen to me.)

Now, people are paying attention and tweeting incidents that they may have ignored in the past.

Posted by: stuckman | November 15, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I saw a moving escalator suddenly stop a couple weeks ago and honestly, hardly thought anything of it since it seems to be happening more and more. I think it may have been Dupont (a platform escalator, not one of the long ones) but I don't remember for sure.

Posted by: DOEJN | November 15, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Well until Metro gets it right with the Escalators maybe shuttle buses should be dispatched to take customers to a working escalator and subtract the salary of the overtime from the managers' salaries. Metro managers need reduction or fines when poor over site is their forte'. You will a response when you hit their back pockets!

Posted by: Debo2 | November 16, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I was getting on a Metro train once -- the doors opened and then IMMEDIATELY shut-- ON ME!! Then they reopened. What a miserable way to run a train system.

Posted by: bronxace | November 16, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company