The escalators at the MTA’s newest subway stations are going down!
Transit officials have struggled to keep the 32 escalators at 72nd Street, 86th Street, and 96th Street in working order since the three Second Avenue subway stations opened on January 1, 2017, according to a 15-month review by the agency’s inspector general.
Just three of the stations’ 32 escalators met the agency’s standards for availability, yet subway engineers were unable to explain the frequent malfunctions when confronted by investigators, Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny wrote subway boss Andy Byford in a letter dated July 11 and released to the public on Monday.
“NYC Transit managers told us they were unaware of the outage trends,” Pokorny wrote.
Escalator outages, meanwhile, were poorly managed when they occurred, the IG said. Re-routing escalators to assist mobility-impaired riders was not protocol, meaning riders had to climb as many as eight flights of stairs to get to street level.
But transit workers weren’t the only culprit called out in Pokorny’s report.
The IG found that Schindler Elevator Corporation — responsible for the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of the 10 escalators at the 72nd Street station — performed noticeably worse than the 22 escalators installed at 86th Street and 96th Street by KONE Corporation and maintained by Slade Industries.
Through the first half of 2018, Schindler only did 33-percent of the maintenance work necessary to prevent outages, the IG said.
The company’s performance is of particular concern because the company is installing 17 elevators and 45 escalators on the Long Island Rail Road’s not-yet-finished East Side Access project.
Pokorny recommended that New York City Transit find the “root cause” of the Second Avenue escalator outages, hold contractors to account, set protocol to ensure that escalators prioritize taking riders from the platform to the street, and study escalator outages systemwide to ensure new equipment stays in service.
MTA Capital Construction and the Long Island Rail Road, meanwhile, should consider the experience on Second Avenue for East Side Access and other future projects, Pokorny wrote.
In a statement, the MTA said its leadership takes the issue “extremely seriously” and is complying with the IG’s recommendations.
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