The Metro system’s broken escalators are a constant source of consternation in the DMV. The issue is certainly a top 10 among rider’s many sources of complaints. A man even died walking up a broken escalator in Bethesda years ago.
So as Arlington and Montgomery counties plan to add second entrance to the busy Rosslyn and Bethesda stations, they have shrewdly moved towards the Forest Glen-style bank of high-speed elevators approach.
In Bethesda, the second entrance will be added at Elm Street, and will have elevators that zip to the planned Purple Line level (coming soon!); a second set of elevators will hit the Red Line level, way down there. Arlington is going with a similar escalator-less look across from North Moore Street.
Elevators break too, but Metro’s escalators are a muttering headache for busy commuters. They are also expensive; $50,000 a piece, each year. We know the escalators are unreliable, a pain to fix and expensive. We don’t know elevators can stand up to heavy use; Forest Glen is one of the less-crowded stations; Bethesda and Rosslyn are busy. So the suburban jurisdictions are taking calculated risks as the system keeps expanding.
I imagine many future stations will look to minimize escalators going forward; perhaps with more stairs. That is not feasible at these two particular deep stations, hence the weird elevator idea. Even if it doesn’t work as planned, at least these additions are learning from the mistakes of the past. And commuters can look forward to more access options and a way to avoid walking up 200-foot inclines on those *rare* days the escalators are broken.