It may not seem like it to commuters but Metro says its escalator performance is at a six-year high. The U Street Metrorail Station will be the next to get new escalators, as the transit authority continues to advance a $151 million project to replace more than 130 escalators by the end of the decade.
Metro will temporarily close the 13th Street entrance for the duration of the project. This will allow Metro’s contractor, KONE, to replace the two adjacent escalators at the same time, reducing the project duration by about half.
The project is expected to begin on or about April 3 and continue for approximately six months.
With 618 escalators across 91 stations, Metro owns, operates and maintains the largest fleet of escalators in North America, including the longest in the Western Hemisphere. The transit system has seen escalator performance improve five years in a row as a result of major capital investments in maintenance and equipment.
“In 2010, Metro’s escalators were a symbol of infrastructure neglect and decay,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We have made significant progress. Today, escalator availability is the highest in years thanks to all the new escalators going in, and the many more that have been rebuilt.”
Since 2011, Metro has installed 65 new escalators, and another 23 units are expected to be installed this year. By 2020, more than 130 of Metro’s escalators will have been replaced by new units. In addition, 153 escalators have been rebuilt to “like new” condition in smaller projects that replace all of the escalators’ steps, handrails, motors, controllers, drive chains, and other critical parts.
Metro’s escalator availability metric is the amount of time each of Metro’s 618 escalators is in service during operating hours. The metric reflects anytime an escalator is out of service for inspection, repair, rehabilitation or replacement, as well as any unit that is turned off (for use as stairs) when an adjacent escalator is undergoing work. In 2016, Metro escalators achieved an availability score of 93.5 against a 93.0 target. By contrast, in 2010, the figure was only 89.3 percent.