BART to replace busted escalators at downtown San Francisco stations

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART plans to replace 41 escalators at downtown stations over the next seven years. There's almost nothing in a BART station that gets riders more wound up than their old, unreliable escalators. Here's a sample of what riders told ABC7.

  • "They're not always working and when they're not working, it slows the entire process down."

  • "When they're out and you have to walk it makes it difficult, especially for the handicapped."

  • "More than the maintenance, it's the smell of it, how clean they are. Sometimes they smell like urine. It's disgusting."

In fact, it was one of the biggest complaints in our BART week of stories about the transit system last month.

For example, we got a tweet from Jesse that reads in part, "About once every one to two weeks, the up escalator at the west end of the Embarcadero BART platform is out of commission during the extremely busy morning commute."

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But now BART is taking action.

"This is the biggest escalator repair and restoration contract that we've ever had," according to BART Board President Bevan Dufty.

On Thursday morning, Dufty announced the transit system has agreed to a multi-million dollar contract to replace 41 escalators at downtown BART stations.

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"This is how we welcome people," he said. "Are they welcome to an entrance where the escalator is working and they're safe from the rain and there's not dirt on the stairs and our employees."

The project will take seven years and cost $96.5 million. Or about $2.35 million per escalator.

Installation and the first couple of years of maintenance will be handled by the Schindler company of New Jersey, in part to work out all the bugs and to allow BART to beef up its staff of technicians who've had their own challenges, according to Dufty.

"I met an escalator repair person in his first month on the job who was chased by someone at Civic Center station with a hatchet in their hand," he said.

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos.

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