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Using Metro? Don't count on escalators

By Robert Thomson

If you're using one of Metro's busy downtown D.C. stations today, you're very likely to encounter an escalator taken out of service as part of the transit authority's emergency maintenance inspections.

This is necessary work, and a national holiday with reduced ridership is as good a time as any to take down an escalator, but it is compounding the problem created at some stations by previously scheduled work on elevators and escalators.

At Union Station today, according to Metro's list of outages, there are eight elevators and escalators out of service for various reasons.

One rider, Kathryn Knight of Columbia, described the results this way in an e-mail: "There are no functioning elevators or escalators on platform or street level at Union Station.

"There are five escalators and one staircase on the platform level; none of the escalators are working, two escalators and one staircase are open and operating with two-way traffic. There is no signage or warning about the outages and no assistance for people with disabilities, strollers or travelers with luggage on how to handle this. No staff on the platform to assist and no one is working on any of the escalators or elevators."

A MARC and Metrorail commuter, Knight worries that the danger of injury is present every time a MARC train unloads and its passengers head for the subway. She sees no warnings on signage alerting people about the lack of elevators and escalators.

Why they're out
The elevators between the platform and the mezzanine and between the mezzanine and Union Station are out for a three-month rehabilitation that is scheduled to end this month.

When Metro officials announced that program in August, they noted that free shuttle buses are available on request between Judiciary Square and New York Avenue stations, with a stop at the Union Station. Call 202-962-1825 to make that request, or ask a station manager for assistance.

As for the escalators, this is Metro's status report as of noon today:
-- One between the street and mezzanine is out for rehabilitation and is due back in service Dec. 6. That's on the Massachusetts Avenue side.
-- A companion escalator is out for a preventive maintenance inspection, and is due back in service Friday.
-- Another is out for preventive maintenance and is due back Monday.
-- An escalator between the between the Amtrak Station and the Metrorail mezzanine is out for preventive maintenance and due back next Wednesday.
-- Another, also due back next Wednesday, is out for a short-term repair.
-- An escalator between the platform and mezzanine on that same side is due back by the end of the weekend.

(Metro's count of out-of-service equipment doesn't always match what riders see. An escalator or elevator taken out of service or returned to service very recently doesn't always make the list.)

Meanwhile, at Gallery Place, nine escalators are listed as out of service today.

Metro began inspections of its 588 escalators last week after two faulty brakes were found, including the one involved in the L'Enfant Plaza accident. Of them, 405 units have been inspected, with the rest to be done this week, Metro board Chairman Peter Benjamin told The Post's Ann Scott Tyson.

By Robert Thomson  | November 11, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Comments

The fact that David Lacosse is still employed just goes to show Metro's ridiculous lack of accountability when it comes to screwing up. I wonder just what you have to do to get fired from metro.

Posted by: jrutter21 | November 11, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Gallery Place is a bad stop at which to have nine escalators down today. The Capitals play a home game at 7:00.

Posted by: 1995hoo | November 11, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Duh? When did Metro ever have escalators that always worked? We only get what we pay into the system, without more funding and more importantly OVERSIGHT nothing will change.

Posted by: MajorFacemask | November 11, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe by escalators & stations being closed on Holiday's, out of town visitors will voice their displeasure to their congressmen & senators, which might lead to more federal funding for a transportation sytem in the Nation's Capital.

Posted by: Hattrik | November 11, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Serious question - has anyone ever seen an out of service escalator in a mall, office building, sports complex, etc? What is it about metro escalators that causes them to break so frequently? And don't give me that exposed to the weather bs - 95% of these escalators are well underground....

Posted by: Axel2 | November 11, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Serious question - has anyone ever seen an out of service escalator in a mall, office building, sports complex, etc? What is it about metro escalators that causes them to break so frequently? And don't give me that exposed to the weather bs - 95% of these escalators are well underground....

Posted by: Axel2 | November 11, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Having used the metro for years to get to work, I would never, ever, ever trust them if I had to use an elevator due to injury or whatever

It is laughable how consistent they are

Posted by: Bious | November 11, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

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