Over the past few days, commuters at the East Broadway station on the F line learned they’d be climbing more stairs in the next 10 months. According to signs posted throughout the station, the escalator that runs up from the platform to the mezzanine level will be out of service until June 2013. In fact, the MTA plans to demolish the escalator and install a new, more reliable and convenient one in its place.
While the MTA has been undertaking significant improvements to subway stations as part of its ongoing Capital Program, this change was prompted by the escalator’s deterioration. “The project falls under our ‘Normal Replacement’ category – the escalator has reached the end of its useful life and is being replaced,” wrote an MTA spokesman in an email. But replacing the escalator also offers a chance to improve the commuter experience. “The benefits to the customer will be a wider, more reliable escalator,” he wrote.
Currently, the escalator is too narrow to permit more than a single-file line of passengers; unlike other MTA escalators, there is no room for one passenger to pass by another. During busy travel hours at East Broadway, crowds of people waiting to take the escalator often bottleneck on the platform. The new escalator should address this issue, said the MTA spokesman, but the related construction process will last until next June. “The escalator will be out of service for this period in order to remove the existing escalator, add new steel to modify both landings in order to accept the wider escalator, and install and commission the new escalator,” he indicated.
The MTA is asking that passengers simply take the stairs while the project is underway, but this may prove difficult for elderly and disabled residents. The climb from the platform, which includes a couple flights of stairs, may present a problem for some commuters, though stairs have always been the only option for those heading in the other direction, down to the platform.
Despite these concerns, the spokesman for the MTA said the state of the escalator had declined to the point that it required major work. “We certainly regret any inconvenience, but options here are extremely limited,” he explained.
The current escalator was running as usual yesterday, despite signs stating the project would start Wednesday morning. It remains unclear when work will actually begin.