You’ve successfully navigated a double stroller onto a packed Metro car and are ready to disembark the station and get on with your adventure.
Then, you see the orange cone. The elevator’s out. You consider breaking the rules and rolling the stroller onto the escalator. It’s not a good option, but it’d be safer than folding the stroller up and carrying it and two unsecured children up. That’s when you notice that the escalators out, too.
Metro elevator and escalator outages are an annoyance for most commuters, but for parents, they can mean the difference between a day trip and a day ruined. In many stations, there’s simply no safe way to exit the station when a parent or caretaker is saddled with a pre-walker and a stroller, let alone more than one young child and a stroller. The choice becomes to ride the Metro to another stop without breakdowns and catch a shuttle to the first station, a trip that can eat up much of the day and brings its own logistical problems, or return home.
In many ways, Washington’s Metro rail system is wonderfully family-friendly. But it’s also a very deep system. Getting derailed by an out-of-service elevator or escalator is a common enough experience that many parents in the region have given up on the system altogether. According to a Post story last week, one in six of Metro’s escalators are currently under repair.
From Dana Hedgpeth’s story: “The transit system depends on escalators more than other rail system because its stations are deep below the ground and there are few staircases. Seventy-five percent of its 588 escalators are over 25 years old and parts can be difficult to find because four of seven manufacturers have gone out of business. Many of the escalators have not been properly maintained over the years.”
Just as the story was published, the DC Metro Mommies forum lit up with opinions on the subject when a newcomer to the area posed the question: “How stroller friendly is the metro?”
The answers were generally encouraging, including one that called the system the most child-friendly in the world. But outages had clearly marred many experiences.
“We do it all the time with the double. technically you are not supposed to have kids in the stroller on the escalator, but you do what you have to do,” one parent responded.
“... The elevators were out of order more than a few times and I had to fold the stroller and carry both the stroller and my (then 18 mo old) child up and down the escalators. Not fun!” wrote another.
The original poster concluded that with her four children, she would wait until the weekend to navigate the trip with her spouse. Even then, she said, the family would consider it “more of something to do than needing to be anywhere.”
Do you use the Metro regularly with a stroller? When the elevator’s out, and the escalator is working, do you break the rules? What’s your strategy to work around elevator and escalator outages?