DNAinfo: Subway Elevator and Escalator Outages Prompt New Legislation
By Amy Zimmer
December 8, 2010
An escalator at the 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue subway stop has been out of service for more than two years. A second escalator at the same station, as well as one at the Seventh Avenue station, were both broken on Wednesday and earlier this week, the elevator at the Roosevelt Island subway station broke down, trapping a crowd of families inside for more than an hour.
City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin says "no more."
Lappin, whose constituents have been affected by the Roosevelt Island and 53rd and Lex break-downs, wants to put pressure on the MTA to keep subway elevators and escalators running smoothly. She introduced legislation at Wednesday’s City Council meeting calling on the transit authority to track and investigate neglected maintenance work that many straphangers — especially seniors and disabled riders — depend on.
"The subway system is a great way to get around, but only if it’s accessible, Lappin said in a statement. "The MTA has an obligation to ensure that its elevators and escalators actually work."
Harold Hudson, a 77-year-old straphanger who walks with a cane, estimated that escalators or elevators are broken 30 percent of the time he’s trying to use them. Walking upstairs was quite a "pain" when several escalators at the 53rd and Lex station were down for months, said Hudson, who lives near Sutton place, as he waited for an elevator at the station on Wednesday.
"I do what I can," he said. "I prefer to use the stairs, if I could. Those were the good old days. It comes with age."
A report from city Comptroller John Liu last summer found that MTA contractors hadn't completed more than a quarter of the assignments that would have helped prevent elevator malfunction and that scheduled maintenance work was not consistently performed or documented. The MTA promised to improve oversight of its 182 elevators and 176 escalators, Lappin’s office said.
"NYC Transit already has a $1.3 million electronic monitoring system in place that alerts maintainers when an elevator or escalator malfunctions," said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
The agency also has a "specialized training annex" for maintainers to keep the elevators and escalators in "a state of good repair" and post equipment outage information on the MTA's website, www.mta.info/nyct.