Metro escalators: Improvements in the works to fix ailing system

One of the escalators at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth stop in Washington, D.C., only runs 34 percent of the time, according to Metro statistics. Four of the five escalators at this station are among the 20 worst performers in the entire system.

"You're going to be walking up the stairs. Take your vitamins, come to Georgia Avenue, and get some exercise," said Metro rider Brian Thomas.

The Friendship Heights station has three escalators on the list, including the second and fourth worst.

While crews were spotted checking the escalator at the Bethesda station, one of the moving staircases there is stopped 55 out of 100 times.

"It's really hard on somebody who's unable to walk the steps and finds that it's just another long slog," said Metro rider Marcia Rucker.

Metro has taken notice of the complaints and has increased the number of escalators to be replaced to 94. Individual fixes can take months, like at Dupont Circle, where repairs are expected to continue through October.

"It's going to be like building a ship inside a wine bottle," said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

Metro engineers compare the process of removing the broken escalators from the stations to the game Jenga. They must be cut into 10-foot chunks and placed on three separate cranes to be lifted out.

"This is relatively short-term pain for long-time gain. The escalators we are putting in are industrial grade; they will work well for many years to come," said Stessel.

Below is a list of the top 20 worst performing escalators. The number listed after the station is the percentage of time at which a particular escalator at that station works.

1. Georgia Avenue: 34.17 percent
2. Friendship Heights: 38.46 percent
3. Bethesda: 44.57 percent
4. Friendship Heights: 44.60 percent
5. Huntington: 45.16 percent
6. U Street: 46.38 percent
7. Georgia Avenue: 48.85 percent
8. U Street: 60.87 percent
9. Columbia Heights: 61.96 percent
10. Glenmont: 65.93 percent
11. Georgia Avenue: 66.25
12. Arlington Cemetery: 67.07 percent
13. Friendship Heights: 69.46 percent
14. Georgia Avenue: 70.40 percent
15. U Street: 70.56 percent
16. Woodley Park: 70.90 percent
17. Glenmont: 73.64 percent
18. Woodley Park: 73.87 percent
19. Cleveland Park: 73.89 percent
20. Arlington Cemetery: 74.48 percent