Starts & Stops

Going up? For one escalator, not anytime soon

Commuters used the recently repaired escalator for the Red Line in South Station on Friday. Another escalator there, and one at the Route 128 station, remain out of order.
Commuters used the recently repaired escalator for the Red Line in South Station on Friday. Another escalator there, and one at the Route 128 station, remain out of order.(Wendy Maeda/Globe staff)

If you’re one of those health-nut commuters who eschew escalators to opt for stairs, no need to read further. Everyone else, listen up.

First, some good news: That broken escalator at the end of the outbound Red Line platform at South Station? That was finally fixed on Friday.

A motor fire caused significant damage to the escalator’s machinery in June, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

That happened right around the same time that another escalator on the outbound side of the Red Line platform was on the fritz.)

The 12-year-old escalator unit needed to be completely rebuilt. Fair enough. But as reader Alex Smith pointed out, many weeks passed when the moving stairway appeared entirely untouched.


The mechanical overhaul, Pesaturo said, required custom manufacturing, and the T had to order several one-of-a-kind parts, then wait for their arrival before assembling them.

“The MBTA apologizes for the lengthy inconvenience, but we expect to have it operational again next week,” Pesaturo said.

The reopening of the escalator could hardly have come at a better time: With South Station inundated with Red Sox fans en route to the rolling rally Saturday, the escalator was in heavy use. “Finally!” commented one T employee standing sentinel at the escalator during the pre-parade crush. “You can’t imagine how thrilled I am it’s back open.”

Pesaturo pointed out that the T’s rate of broken escalators is way down from seven or eight years ago. Some of the worst stretches occurred from January to April 2005 and in July 2006, when the average percent of MBTA elevators that were broken rose to 9 percent or higher. Last week, Pesaturo said, that number stood at 1.15 percent.

Now on to the bad news.

Another escalator remains broken after months — this one at the Route 128 train station in Westwood, leading from the inbound track up to the walkway over the tracks and into the station — and may stay that way quite a while longer.


According to reader Ron Kole of Lexington, the moving stairway has been decidedly unmoved for at least six months.

Amtrak owns the facility, and spokesman Clifford Cole had to deliver the disappointing update: There’s no fix in sight.

“Due to the age and unreliability of the existing platform escalators, we have determined that a complete replacement is necessary,” Cole said.

“Amtrak is presently working to secure the necessary funding for the new escalator system,” he continued, “but cannot provide a timeframe for their replacement at this time.”

Not cool. But Cole said the elevators still work, and passengers who need assistance with their luggage should ask an Amtrak employee.

Got complaints? MassDOT wants to hear them. Really

If there’s one truth universally acknowledged in the world of transportation, it’s this: People love to complain about their commute.

Now, for once, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation wants to hear those gripes.

Last week, MassDOT released a user satisfaction survey that asks residents all manner of probing questions about their experiences on the state’s roadways.

Until Nov. 30, respondents have the opportunity to provide their two cents on pressing issues such as, “Are you generally satisfied with the level of maintenance of these highways?” and “How long do you expect it should take crews to have all lanes of a highway open after a winter storm?”

(Sample answers: “Not after driving southbound on the Somerville-Charlestown stretch of I-93,” and “WAY less than it takes now.”)


Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.