Metro says 55 more workers needed to fix escalator problems

Metro officials say the agency would need to hire 55 additional workers at a cost of $6.8 million to fix the perennial problems with escalators. As part of the upcoming budget, though, Metro is only asking for 10 more workers in its escalator and elevator maintenance division.

The calculation of 55 additional workers doesn’t even include maintenance needs for the new Metro line to Dulles, which will have 100 elevators and escalators.

Metro officials wouldn’t answer questions from ABC7’s Julie Parker Tuesday, instead pointing to the board meeting on Thursday when the official discussion will take place.

Metro's budget gap for the coming fiscal year is about $66 million. It's unclear just how many technicians the agency can hire.

In October, an escalator malfunction at the L'Enfant Plaza caused a scary situation for riders as people scrambled to get off the escalator and out of the way of others.

“They're a little bit nerve-wracking to ride, to be perfectly honest with you,” said Metro rider Jenna Polivka. “The more Metro repairmen they can get out there the faster the better. It's a serious safety problem.”

Out-of-service escalators often mean riders have to break a sweat to leave stations in the hot summer months. “I see a lot of people stop and catching their breath because it's a long way up,” Brett Miguel observed.

The Washington Examiner reports that one of every five escalators was out of service last week, and “an outside consultant said in the fall that Metro's poor maintenance practices led the escalators and elevators to break down.”