Elevator & Escalator Project

Former location of Unit 323, Ashmont Station

Former location of Unit 323, Ashmont Station (demolished in 2006)

At the end of 2007, the MBTA operated 167 escalators in 50 transit stations.  The MBTA believed that it operated one additional unit in one additional station at the end of 2007 (and it reported that to the Globe, among others), but that was not true.  That escalator also didn’t have a spotless operating record as the MBTA claimed.  The extra escalator (unit 323 in Ashmont Station) was dismantled before 2007.  Ooops.

I’ve long questioned whether the MBTA’s analysis of its escalator statistics was really accurate.  This project collects the MBTA’s escalator outage statistics.

2007 MBTA Escalator Data

As a starting point, the MBTA sent a set of records for 2007 relating to elevator and escalator outages.  Here is a more compact version, downloadable here as a 236kb tab-delimited text file.  The data contains a list of MBTA daily log entries for instances when an escalator was out of service; the station, unit number, beginning of the outage, and (if it ended the same day) the end of the outage.  For outages spanning multiple days, there are multiple entries.  One outage was more than three months.

What interesting nuggets have the data revealed?

Highest % of Time Out of Service in 2007

Unit 394, Aquarium station (outbound platform to mezzanine).  18.6% (68 days). This unit went out of service on May 21 and was not back online until July 25, when “98 steps” had been replaced.  Wasn’t that station renovated recently?

Unit 6, State Street station (northbound platform to paid lobby).  15.0% (55 days). This unit experienced three weeks-long outages.

Greatest Number of Separate Outages

Unit 113, Downtown Crossing (Red Line northbound platform to Hawley Street).  62 separate restarts after repairs.  Average time per outage: 9.6 hours.  In October and November, alone there were 21 separate outages.  Most often the unit wouldn’t start; occasionally it wouldn’t stop.  There were several notations about the handrail.  Apparently the problem was not easily located or fixed.

Unit 354, Alewife station (concourse to garage level 2).  56 separate restarts after repairs.  Average time per outage: 10.1 hours.  Sixteen separate outages in July, including 6 in two consecutive days.  The unit repeatedly shut itself off, inexplicably.

Most Reliable

Two units had no outages reported.  Both are doubtful and have been disqualified.  Unit 323, Ashmont station, was demolished before the year began and, contrary to MBTA daily reports, did not operate in 2007.  Unit 348, Quincy Adams station, serving the top level of the multi-story parking garage, had no outages reported, but in a visit in 2008, the unit was out of service and the attendant was not aware of the outage.  The most likely winners are as follows:

Unit 404, World Trade Center (outbound platform to lobby).  86 minutes out of service in 2007.

Unit 397, Aquarium station (1st landing to street).  287 minutes out of service in 2007.

Stations with Highest Rates Out of Service

Beachmont station, 2 escalators, 5.9% of time out of service.

Park Street station, 3 escalators, 5.2% of time out of service.

Porter Square station, 7 escalators, 5.1% of time out of service.

Stations with Lowest Rates Out of Service

Jackson Square station, 1 escalator, 0.1% of time out of service.

Wellington station, 2 escalators, 0.1% of time out of service.

Dishonorable mentions

Units 428 & 429, Maverick station (unpaid lobby to street).  These units were new and began service in October.  They don’t make escalators like they used to.  In their first month of operation, together the units accumulated 28 separate outages.  They finished 2007 ranked numbers 3 and 19 in highest percentage of time out of service (of 169 units).  The problem apparently was that the new units repeatedly would not start.

Unit 123, Andrew station (southbound platform to busway).  Highest differential between rush hour time out of service (12.4%) and general time out of service (9.8%).  The unit was often out of service, and especially at rush hour.

Units 326, 327, and 383, North Quincy station; Unit 125 Bowdoin station.  The MBTA reported superior reliability for each of these units when calculated on a standard 20-hour, 7-day a week schedule.  Kudos.  Except the facilities in which these units are located didn’t operate on a full schedule in 2007.  The areas where the escalators were located closed early each night and did not open on weekends.  Results should have been calculated on a 15-hour day (plus or minus) and a 5-day week.