WASHINGTON (WUSA9) After both upward escalators failed at the south Dupont Circle Metro station during rush-hour Wednesday morning, a WMATA spokesman acknowledged 20 of the system's other escalators were on the fritz, but noted that number represents only three percent of the 613 mechanical stairs in the system.
"Scared at first when the escalator stopped," is how Twitter user @Rizzz described the Dupont Circle Station outage in a tweet. "We all lurched forward, a woman screamed."
"Next came anger and a lot of grumbling," tweeted @Rizz. "The problem is, this keeps happening, over and over.
Metro diverted some customers to the north exit and had repaired one of the escalators within about an hour.
Metro says different safety sensors activated on both upward escalators, forcing the shutdown.
"The ascending unit on the far right, went out of service when a comb impact sensor was activated," said Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel. The middle unit, needed recalibration...for some reason, the speed sensor was detecting an exception and stopped the escalator."
WMATA installed new escalators at Dupont South in 2012 at a cost of about $12 million.
"Escalator availability has improved significantly as a result of rehab and replacement projects, including the one at Dupont South," Stessel said.. "Ask anyone there who used the station prior to the new escalators if things are better or worse now."
Stessel said Metro operates more escalators than any transit system in the Western Hemisphere.
He said Metro's escalators function through challenging conditions.
"Metro's escalators are exposed to the elements 24-hours a day, spend more time in service, carry more passengers, and ingest more dirt/rocks/coins/grit that can result in unexpected outages," Stessel said.