Escalator problems, smoke at Dupont Circle Metro station

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Commuter woes that began Monday morning on escalators at the Dupont Circle Station -- one of the busiest stations on Metro's busiest line -- did not let up for the afternoon rush-hour crowd.

A report of smoke coming from an escalator near 20th and Q streets NW about 5:30 p.m. led fire department personnel to close the Q Street exit. It also triggered a shutdown of escalators at the station, leading to a huge bottleneck as riders struggled up the more than 120 steps at the 19th Street exit.

"I'm in decent shape, but I'm having trouble getting my breath," said Faheem Moghal, 32, a physician. "For someone with health problems, this is dangerous."

After the Q Street exit closed and forced riders to the other end of the station, someone apparently removed a barricade to climb the central escalator but ended up facing a large hole where mechanical work on an escalator was underway, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the city's fire and emergency medical services department.

Earlier Monday, Metro sent an alert that all escalators at the station's north entrance were out and that two of the three escalators on the south side were, too. A video posted to Twitter showed people shouting and a lone Metro employee struggling to control the crowd.

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