Los Angeles is known around the world as the quintessential horizontal city. And as the region’s biggest transportation agency, we’re tasked with making this vast sprawling area feel more close-knit.
Nevertheless, elevators and escalators (Vertical Transportation or “VT” in Metro parlance) are essential to our system. Why?
As the largest transportation planning agency in Los Angeles, we know that your trip begins long before you board one of our buses or trains. That’s why are committed to making these parts of your trip as accessible and comfortable as possible. So whether you have a disability, you’ve sprained your ankle, you’re carrying a bag of heavy groceries, or you’re simply in a hurry, our elevator and escalator system ensures that our system is welcoming, ADA-compliant, and saves you time on your commute.
There are currently 408 elevators and escalators systemwide. But they’re finicky technologies. They need a lot of TLC in order to run smoothly, and many have been around for quite a while and are starting to feel their age. Much of this infrastructure on the B (Red) Line, for example, will soon hit its 30th birthday.
That’s why we have VT maintenance contractors on our system every day. They work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (and more, as needed) in order to perform preventative maintenance, respond to and repair units reported out of service and deliver detailed daily reports. Our Metro Ambassadors are also trained to report malfunctions and breakages on our units systemwide, which allows us to fix things faster.
We act as quickly as possible when elevators and escalators aren’t working properly. Once an issue is reported, our maintenance contractors are required to be at the unit within 30 minutes during scheduled business hours, and within one hour after scheduled business hours. If a unit breaks, it’s unlikely to be out for a long time. (Exceptions are major issues, like water intrusion, a step chain replacement, or acquiring hard-to-find parts for aged units.) But let’s face it –– if you’ve ridden our system, it’s likely that you’ve seen an inoperable elevator or escalator. For escalators, most of the time, this is not a technical glitch. Because of state law (ASME A17.1 if you want to get technical), all of our escalators are required to have emergency stop buttons located at the top and bottom of every unit. Improper use of these buttons are responsible for 90% of inoperable escalators.
So please do not push them!
And if you want to know if a unit is actually under maintenance, look for a yellow safety barrier.
Right now, we’re using social media to notify you when a non-redundant elevator (that is, elevators that lack a backup that can transport riders to a specific part of a station) isn’t working. We’re planning on expanding notifications to include all unit downtime (including scheduled maintenance) in the near future.
We’re also working on improving our infrastructure in order to create a more welcoming and hassle-free experience. Here’s what we’re doing:
Cleanliness and maintenance issues are one reason why our elevators and escalators might break down.
- In 2022, Metro completed a 2.3M two-year repair project, which included 117 elevator floor replacements and 102 corrosion repairs.
- We’re cleaning elevator hoistway glass (multilevel glass towers) and elevator pits (the bottoms of our elevator shafts) 2 times per year.
- We’re taking apart escalator steps and deep cleaning them 4 times per year.
It’s important to us that you are safe –– and that you feel safe, too.
- We’re installing cameras in the elevator cabs so you can feel safer on the system. To date, 81 out of the 186 elevators systemwide have cameras in the cab. The plan is to outfit all remaining 105 elevators. This is an ongoing multi-year project.
Protecting Elevator Glass Panels
One big reason we have to take elevators out of service is to fix broken glass.
- We’re installing shatter-proof polycarbonate protective shields on existing elevator glass panels. We’ve finished this work on 61 elevators and have 67 units to go.
- We’re replacing our older and more fragile elevator doors that have glass inserts with new durable, vandal-resistant stainless-steel doors. These older doors are primarily on the B (Red) and D (Purple) lines. To date, we’ve completed work on 13 elevators and have 63 units to go.
Better inventory management
We know how frustrating it is to arrive at a station only to discover you can’t get where you want to go.
- We’re planning to install a remote-monitoring system for all of our elevators and escalators across the system. This means that we’ll be able to monitor outages with the click of a button. This multi-year project will minimize unit downtime for a better transit experience.
Got a question about our VT infrastructure? Ask us! And we’ll report back with updates.
Categories: Transportation News