Dupont Metro escalator stops suddenly during morning rush

Jason Lloyd Clement had WMATA's latest escalator woes fresh in his mind when he boarded an upward-moving escalator to exit the south entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro station at about 7:45 a.m. Monday. It was tough to think about much else, what with the number of his fellow passengers still clutching today's print edition of the Express, emblazoned with the headline "Brace Yourself." Inside the paper was another story about the potential for yet more escalator malfunctions. 

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Long story short

Dupont Metro escalator stops suddenly while packed with riders.

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And then, as if on cue, just as Clement reached the midpoint of his ascent, he felt a jolt.

"Literally without any warning, the whole thing came to a dead stop," says Clement, who had been walking up the left hand side of the escalator at the time. He says he saw riders standing close to each other on the right get jostled into each other a little bit, but that no one appeared to be injured.

"We were all just kind of like, we just read about this," Clement says.

Unlike recent incidents at the Gallery Place and L'Enfant stations, which saw malfunctioning escalators suddenly speed up, in this case the escalator stopped and didn't start moving again. And that's exactly what should have happened, according to WMATA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

"If a safety mechanism is going to kick in, then the escalator is going to stop," says Taubenkibel. "Why is this a story?"

Well, given the record of Metro's escalators in recent weeks, a safety mechanism that works properly is news. Also, Clement felt a sense of panic among escalator riders, a feeling that surely feeds off of recent news reports. "There was definitely a moment of confusion if there could potentially be any danger," he says, as he and others started to move to get off the escalator as quickly as they could. His thought process: "What happens if it starts moving in either direction?"

That didn't happen, but Clement says he also questions how quickly Metro staff managed to react to the situation. After reaching the top, he stopped in at Cosi to purchase coffee, and by the time he came back out, he still didn't observe any WMATA workers at the station entrance directing passengers on whether or not to use that escalator.

After his experience this morning, Clement says he's not necessarily afraid to board another escalator. But if he has a choice, he'll probably opt for what makes him a little less nervous. "I'm probably more inclined to take a non-moving one," he says.

Taubenkibel agreed to check with his escalator maintenance crew and get back to us with more details, so we'll update when we learn more.

UPDATE 4:29 p.m.: Taubenkibel gets back to us with this reply: "Our escalator mechanics are still working to determine why the unit stopped this morning. At this point, the unit is off until we can determine a cause. The unit did come to a stop as it was supposed to."

 

Special thanks to ABC7/TBD's Mike Conneen, who contributed to this story.

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