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Report: Metro missing mark on working escalators

Tuesday - 7/5/2011, 2:03pm  ET

metro escalator Smithsonian
Metro says more than 100 of its 588 escalators were out of service in May. (WTOP)

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON - Metro hasn't met its goal for escalator availability in months, and it doesn't look like things will improve any time soon.

According to a presentation to be delivered to Metro's Board of Directors Thursday, Metro has consistently fallen below its target goal of about 90 percent availability with its escalators since the beginning of the year.

Moreover, looking at statistics for May -- the most recent month for which figures are available -- there was a sharp decline in the number of available escalators.

Metro says more than 100 of its 588 escalators were out of service in May. According to the presentation:

  • "485 out of 588 escalators were operating in May 2011 (based on hours of available service). This represents a significant decrease from April, with 22 less escalators in operation for the month."

That means in May, more than one out of every six escalators was not working.

Also according to the presentation:

  • "Metro is purposefully intensifying its inspection practices in order to improve the reliability of escalators in the long-term. Hours for inspection repairs increased 30 percent from April and are 113 percent over the same month in 2010. The number of inspections increased in May by 8 percent, creating long lists of repairs for maintenance technicians. At the same time, Metro inspectors are checking the quality of repairs, sometimes requiring that work be re-done and/or identifying additional repairs. These factors result in units being out of service longer."

"We are in pain now, because it is going to get better later. We need to help the public understand that that's really the situation we are in," Metro Boardmember Mary Hynes said at a recent board meeting.

To help speed up the process, Metro says it is prioritizing escalator work and will fill supervisor and manager positions this month "to improve maintenance planning, quality of work, and identify maintenance employee training needs."

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)