Using Metro? Don't count on escalators
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.
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.
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