BART passengers may be noticing something strange about the transit system’s notoriously unreliable escalators: They are actually moving now.
After vowing in June to redouble maintenance and repair efforts, BART has dramatically increased the availability of escalators. Currently, only seven out of 176 are out of service, assuring the agency of a 96 percent reliability rate, according to BART data.
That’s a far cry from May, when only 76.5 percent of escalators were working, well below BART’s 95 percent goal.
After reviewing its dismal performance, BART reassigned six technicians to escalator-repair duties, bringing the total number of workers on the machinery to 16. The agency also dedicated an additional $1 million from its operating budget to pay for repair materials. With the increased funding and the extra employees working overtime, BART has been able to slowly improve its escalator situation.
In June, the agency posted an 80.6 percent availability rate and in July that number crept up to 84 percent. With its current 96 percent standing, BART’s escalators are exceeding the agency’s goal for the first time in more than a year.
The seven escalators that continue to remain out of service include three in downtown San Francisco, although those are scheduled to be repaired by Aug. 17, BART spokesman Jim Allison said. The agency hopes to have all 176 escalators up and running by the end of October, he said.
“I think the increase in personnel has had a direct impact on our ability to get the escalators back up and running,” said Allison. “Our investment is paying off for our customers.”
But the improvements have not been cheered by all BART passengers. Bob Planthold, a local activist for disability rights, said mobility-impaired BART riders continue to bemoan the lack of operating escalators.
“I haven’t heard anyone tell me that things are improving,” said Planthold. “We’re still dealing with the same issues. Since BART doesn’t make any station announcements about their escalators, we don’t even find out about the broken equipment until we’ve walked all the way to the exit. By then, it’s too late.”
BART street escalator availability rate (the agency’s goal is 95 percent):