Metro sensors monitor escalators remotely

The Metro, often criticized for perpetually out-of-order escalators throughout its stations, is testing enhanced sensors to notify the agency of breakdowns.

The 24 sensors across different Metro stations will allow the agency to remotely monitor an escalator’s status in real-time and respond more swiftly if the system malfunctions, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesman Dan Stessel said.

He said the new escalators at the Foggy Bottom Metro station are equipped with the enhanced sensor technology, adding that the agency does expect fewer breakdowns once the three new escalators are fully operating.

“What will improve the escalators at Foggy Bottom is not sensors or remote monitoring but the fact that they’re brand new, high quality units,” Stessel said.

Upgrades to the Foggy Bottom Metro began in January and two of the three new escalators are up and running. Technicians are working on the third escalator, which will open before the end of the year.

Other upcoming renovations at the station include the addition of a staircase to lessen foot traffic on escalators, and a canopy to prevent weather damage to the new escalators. Officials have projected they will be completed in early 2012.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority also announced in September that it is looking to hire outside contractors to manage day-to-day escalator maintenance across the rail service.

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