How safe are Metro's escalators?
On October 30, a security camera captured what Leslie Tufarolo and her husband lived through: A Metro escalator suddenly accelerating and throwing a crowd of people into a pile on the ground at L’Enfant Plaza.
Leslie’s husband pulled her from the pile of people with just bumps and bruises. But four others were taken to the hospital.
“By the time I got there it was too fast for me to safely get off,” Leslie Tufarolo said. “And that's why I was on the ground and people were on top of me.”
ABC7 News has obtained a list of the 282 claims filed against Metro involving escalators between January 2010 and June of this year that includes the L’Enfant plaza incident.
Nearly one in five claims involved an escalator or escalator handrail that made a sudden stop, start, jerk or reversed direction.
“It sounds like they aren't keeping safety as a priority,” Leslie Tufarolo said. “It’s more like making money."
7 On Your Side also reviewed a list of hundreds of incident reports for roughly the same period and found 155 instances where multiple escalators were out of service at a particular station at the same time. In April, there were 20 such incidents listed. Nineteen involved all the entrance escalators at individual stations being out of service.
Metro’s new leadership has acknowledged “reliability” issues and is in the process of replacing or rehabilitating 153 escalators – including the escalators at Foggy Bottom.
“Absolutely there's a lot of work to be done as it relates to improving metro's escalators,” said Dan Stessel, spokesman for Metro. “That doesn't mean they are unsafe. The in-service escalators are in service because they are safe, they've been properly inspected. Those are the ones we have confidence in.”
While Stessel did not provide numbers for how many incidents involved mechanical failure of escalators or how many injuries were as a result he did tell ABC7’s Kris Van Cleave, “for the first 6 months of this year there were 75 escalator injuries, and of those 70 of the 75 were slips trips and falls, so the other 5 were likely due to an escalator malfunction or forces outside of slip/trip/fall.”
He added Metro’s overall injury rate for the same period is very low — “1.66 out of a million trips.”
Regarding injuries, Stessel says: “One is obviously too many, the rate of them is a fairly small number when you consider how many escalators we have, how many passengers we carry on a daily basis and frankly an injury rate that's fairly low.”
January 2010 through June 2011:
For the escalator accident reports provided can we get the number of claims filed against WMATA, the number settled, the dollar value paid out, the number of pending claims and the number of dismissed or dropped claims.
Number claims filed: 282
Number settled: 28
Amount paid: $77,221
Number pending: 112
Number dismissed/dropped: 143