For me, malfunctioning escalators are the stuff of nightmares. I still secretly fear that up escalators are going to eat me. So this people-flinging Metro station escalator from the day of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” last year has given me a whole new category of escalator malfunctions to fear.
Escalators have a braking system that’s supposed to kick in when the steps are moving too fast. In this case, the braking system failed, and people rushed to get out of the way as the escalator moved faster and faster. When one passenger fell, a pileup occurred.
The local Fox affiliate spoke to a man who was on the escalator at the time.
Initially the reaction was, oh good we’re moving faster. Then in about a split second I realized that’s not good. This escalator’s out of control and we were hurtling towards the bottom.
So gut instinct, I decided I didn’t want to wind up at the bottom of the pile so I jumped over the railing and grabbed my son and he slid down behind me. We slid down the balustrade that runs between the two escalators.
Someone has already set this to “Yakety Sax,” so don’t bother. Online, this seems hilarious, but six people were injured–four of them badly enough that they needed an ambulance ride to the hospital.
Metro’s statement on the incident:
Staff reported to the Board in November that the cause of this incident was a failure of the braking system to stop when the over-speed safety switch activated. On November 4, Metro began a program with our escalators that included:âˆ™ Inspection of the braking systems of the 588 escalators in service (which was completed);âˆ™ Modification of our procedures to increase the frequency of our brake tests to monthly from quarterly;âˆ™ Implemented additional steps to improve quality control and compliance with escalator maintenance standards.
Of course, longtime D.C. residents are probably shaking their heads and saying, “this is what happens when tourists don’t stand on the right.”