Worn motors, defunct fuses, loose connections, stuck chains, bad transformers, stalled handrails, a kaput motherboard, misaligned rollers, and old brushes: these are a few of the things that stalled BART escalators in January.
They stopped for routine maintenance, too.
I ride BART to and from 16th Street nearly every weekday, enough that I think I have a good idea when the escalator is down.
It seemed to my amateur eye that the street escalator on the northeastern corner has been out of service for a long time, and last week I stopped a service employee to ask about it.
The service guy – who said he was doing routine maintenance at about 5 p.m. on a weekday evening – mentioned that safety mechanisms made it easy to jam the escalator. Gum or a small piece of food dropped by a pigeon can mean bad news.
Because 16th Street BART is all about gum, pigeons, and public urination, its street escalator probably sees more than its fair share of hazards.
The escalator is also outside and open to the elements.
Given the stresses, are 16th Street’s escalators the most frequently downed in the system?
I called BART to ask.
“BART has not installed any safety devices on its escalators that make them less reliable. They have, in fact, made the escalators safer,” wrote James K. Allison, BART’s multimedia managing producer, in an email.
BART doesn’t keep stats on the individual escalators, he said. However, there are numbers tracked station by the station.
BART escalators were available almost 97 percent of the time over the fourth quarter of 2009.
Escalators at 16th Street had 92 hours of downtime in January, in part to install a new transformer. That’s about 12 percent of the time, if it was one escalator. Of course, that’s only 3 percent if averaged over the four escalators at the station.
Over January, four stations had more downtime than 16th Street, and 12th Street in Oakland was the longest, at 651 hours downtime for a major repair.
Nine street escalators account for 43 percent of the nearly 3,000 hours of escalator downtime in January. Street escalators were – as one might expect – more likely to experience downtime than those leading to platforms.
Allison said it was a tossup for the weirdest reason an escalator went out of service, according to BART escalator maintenance memory.
A drunk once decided to sit for the ride down. His buttocks touched the comb teeth, and when he reached the bottom, the teeth penetrated his skin. Stuck and bleeding, he needed the fire department to come and free him.
Tied with the drunkard’s rear is an entire woman’s dress that was removed from one of the steps.
“My question was, where was she?” Allison wrote.