A plea for patience on Metro escalators

Passengers walk up out-of-order escalator stairs at the Dupont Circle Metro station's north entrance during a power outage June 13, 2008.
Passengers walk up out-of-order escalator stairs at the Dupont Circle Metro station's north entrance during a power outage June 13, 2008. (Gerald Martineau/the Washington Post)
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I appreciated your column [Dr. Gridlock, May 13] concerning the hazard posed to senior citizens by broken Metro escalators, length of escalators, varying depth of each step and so on. I try to take elevators as an alternative, but the elevators might also be broken because of greatly increased use.

As I am carefully walking down a broken escalator (complicated by the fact that I am very short), I make every effort to stay as far to the right as humanly possible.

Despite this, folks who are running down the escalator on the left regularly bump into me, shove me into the side of the escalator, complain out loud at my lack of speed and (more often than you would expect), curse me for being "in the way." A little patience, and courtesy, from younger, more able-bodied Metro riders would be very much appreciated.

Barbara Jacobowitz

Silver Spring

DG: According to the Metro Scorecard, a monthly performance indicator that the transit authority began publishing in June, based on April statistics, the escalators were working about as well as the year before. They were in service more than 90 percent of the time but still below the goal of 95 percent. An average of 528 out of 588 escalators were in operation systemwide, Metro said.

Metro is taking a positive step in the direction of accountability with this scorecard, initiated by General Manager Richard Sarles. But the systemwide percentages will mask the extent of the problem for riders at particularly busy stations where multiple escalators are out of service.

The transit authority says it's taking three steps to improve the escalator and elevator service:

Outside experts are scheduled to deliver an assessment on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Metro maintenance and repair system by September. Metro is increasing the number of preventive maintenance inspections to reduce breakdowns, and it is consolidating its supervision of escalator and elevator maintenance and repair and creating rapid-response maintenance teams to address problems.


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