Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Rosslyn Metro station continues to suffer from the escalator blues

September 16, 2011 - 09:40 AM
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Shuffling toward light. (Photo: John Hendel)

The troubling dimension to WMATA repairs is the perception that no repair lasts forever. Last week, just as Metro announced new plans to hire a contractor to speed up escalator repairs, all of the escalators at the Rosslyn station broke and stayed broken for 61 minutes, all of which was during morning rush hour.

Last night I passed through the Rosslyn Metro station yet again around 5:45 p.m. — again in the very midst of rush hour — and saw both descending escalators working, yet neither ascending escalators worked. Riders initially didn't even have a way to exit the station outside of using the elevator. One of those two escalators was completely closed off; the other had WMATA workers blocking the entrance to it. A huge crowd of riders had gathered together waiting near the bottom of the escalators, the length of the masses snaking back toward the platform in a corridor that was already more narrow than usual due to a construction wall encroaching on the normal path to the escalators. They simply wanted to leave the Metro station and couldn't.

I watched in wonder at the Thursday evening scene and could only shake my head. Before long, riders were able to walk up the one broken escalator that wasn't blocked to them, and as I turned to leave, it looked as though one of the two descending escalators had its direction reversed to become an ascending escalator. Thank God for the sake of all those riders — these are dramatically long escalators we're talking about at Rosslyn, and not everyone can trek their way to the surface quite so easily.

WMATA's struggling with these escalators, and I get that. They reacted fast enough and did seem to remedy the situation. But thing is, this is rush hour, and I equally get how anyone in that crowd of waiting riders would feel a very powerful sense of frustration.

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