muniescalator.jpgDo you ever feel like the escalators at Muni stations are ALWAYS broken? Well, that might be, as they say, more than a feeling — according to a report in the Examiner, on average one escalator of the 28 escalators in the system were out every 2 1/2 days in 2010 — and that’s not even counting the 300 times they were out of service last year for planned maintenance.

As with so many junky broken things plaguing Muni (so many links to choose!), the issue is said to be age of equipment — SF MTA spokesperson Paul Rose explained the frequent outages to the Ex, saying, “(t)he bottom line is that our escalators are 30 years old.”

Rose’s comments echo those made by his predecessor, Judson True, to the Chron in 2008, when similar complaints about malfunctioning escalators caused him to remark “Our escalator maintenance issues are a good example of the cost of underinvestment of our infrastructure in recent decades…Our escalators are about as current as a Model T, but that’s no excuse.”

The MTA is planning to spend $11 million to restore the escalators, but until then, says the Ex, the MTA pays three companies $4.65 million (it’s not clear from the Ex story is that’s altogether or annually — I called the MTA to get clarification on that, and will update) to maintain the equipment. Some residents claim that the repairs aren’t happening as swiftly as they used to — a 2009 contribution to Muni Diaries mused:

“I can’t help but wonder if there’s some kind of part that keeps breaking down in these escalators, in their constant states of disrepair, that’s difficult to come by — or whether economic factors are preventing them from getting fixed. It used to be that escalators were repaired within 24 hours or so, but not so these days.”

It’s probably no big surprise that the year’s worst performing escalators are the ones at Powell (66 malfunction reports). Church station’s a distant second, with only 16 breakdown reports.

Photo from Civic Center station: Salim Virji

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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