Q. Rider Gabriel Hopkins has wondered for years why the outdoor escalators going down to the Union Station platform seem to be reversed. “Why is it that, when you’re facing the escalators, the one you can travel on is to your left, rather than to your right?” he asked. At the bottom, “streams of people moving … in opposite directions have to cross paths to get between the escalators and the turnstiles, which is very annoying and disruptive during rush hour, when those streams are heavy.”
WMATA has the most escalators and elevators of any system in North America. Each escalator is based on the best way to move people around safely and efficiently, Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said.
Union Station is particularly challenging because all the people coming from Amtrak, commuter trains and buses from the station upstairs make it the busiest entry point in the system. The escalators are set up the way they are, Ly said, based on “many years of observed customer behavior.” The issue, she said, is that for people coming down the escalator to enter the Metro station, the fare machines are to the left.
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