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Longest Metro escalator often stops working

Monday - 5/14/2012, 8:44am  ET

Escalator.jpg
Overall, Metro's escalators work almost 89 percent of the time. (WTOP File/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON - The longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere are part of Metro's system, and they are often out of service, forcing Montgomery County commuters to frequently hike an almost football-field long distance.

At 230 feet each, the three escalators in the Wheaton Metro station stand still 33 percent of the time - far more frequently than the system's other four stations with lengthy escalators.

The Wheaton escalators were available 67 percent of the time from October to March, according to The Examiner.

In contrast, the escalators at Bethesda's Metro station, which are slightly shorter than the ones at Wheaton, are available 90 percent of the time.

Woodley Park and Medical Center follow Bethesda closely at 89 percent and 87 percent. Rosslyn's Metro escalators have an availability 83 percent of the time.

The system-wide availability average is 88.9 percent, just under Metro's goal of 89 percent. Wheaton falls almost 22 percent short of the system average.

Despite the Bethesda station's high availability rate, Montgomery County officials have begged the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to install concrete steps there to alleviate congestion when those escalators aren't available. The Examiner says the transit agency will install the concrete steps and begin to replace the Bethesda escalators by 2014, with riders noticing tie-ups due to construction until 2015.

The availability data does not distinguish between when some or all of the escalators are out of service, but it's still a hassle for riders when just one of them isn't working.

To read more about the Metro system, check out this information from WMATA.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Tags: metrowheatonbethesdawmataexaminer