WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Metro Escalators Suffer From Lack Of Weatherproofing

Play associated audio
There are two escalators leading out of the platform at Union Station, one of Metro’s busiest stations.
David Schultz
There are two escalators leading out of the platform at Union Station, one of Metro’s busiest stations.

There are two escalators leading out of the platform at Union Station, one of Metro's busiest stations. One of them is under construction and the other is shut down, which means it's essentially just a set of stairs -- a really long set of stairs.

"This has been a small nightmare for the last four months," says Ashley Kristof, a commuter who uses this station every day.

Kristof points to a plywood barrier surrounding the escalator under construction, with posters on it detailing why it's out of commission

"I think its a mix of Metro trying to look like they're doing something, so people aren't upset, and it looks like we're making repairs!" she says. "But I think it actually just makes people more angry, than anything."

Metro has almost 600 escalators, and according to its own numbers, only 60 percent are functioning at any given time. It's even worse when the weather is bad.

"If it rains, outside units, I'm sorry to say, most of them will cut off," says Tim Hoepfl, a Metro escalator technician speaking at a labor town hall meeting. "The handrails slip, the brakes are wet, it will cut off."

Metro's escalators are long. The one at Wheaton station is 230 feet – the longest escalator in the western hemisphere. When those escalators shut down, only the most athletic of riders can climb up them.

"And I know that a lot of this is design," says Hoepf. "And I know that a lot of people have complained, and now Metro is listening."

Metro has plans to spend more than $130 million over the next six years to rehabilitate many of its escalators. In the meantime, Washingtonians are left praying it doesn't rain.


French Bulldog At Heart Of New Children's Book 'Naughty Mabel'

Mabel is a naughty French bulldog at the center of a new children's book by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Lane about his inspiration for the fictional dog.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.