Why Are Elevators/Escalators Out of Service for Repair?

Elevators and escalators can be out of service for the following reasons:

  • Preventive Maintenance Inspections: These are similar to a tune up for an automobile. Conducted at regular intervals (often in the evening when the Metro system is closed to prevent disruption to the customer), maintenance staff oil and grease moving parts and check wear on chains, handrails, and other parts. These inspections enable staff to proactively identify and address maintenance problems early. If problems are identified, the unit stays out of service for Preventive Maintenance Repairs. If problems can be resolved within a day, the unit goes out of service for Minor Repairs. If problems are significant, the unit goes out of service for Major Repairs. If no problems are identified, the unit goes back into service the next day.
  • Modernization: Each elevator/escalator is made up of thousands of moving parts; and with heavy usage over time, the parts become less reliable despite regular preventive maintenance. Elevators/escalators should be modernized every 20-25 years and replaced after 40-50 years. This translates into Metro modernizing approximately 12 elevators and 26 escalators a year. The modernization schedule can vary year-to-year based on the age and condition of units and available funding. Modernized escalators are typically out of service from 10-20 weeks, depending on the length of the escalator, as the old units are removed and new components installed. The time frame for elevator rehabilitation is approximately 8-12 weeks. Modernized units are as much as 30% more energy efficient than the old units due to premium efficiency motors and adjustable frequency drives. Metro also benefits from new technology in rehabilitated units that provide real-time data to monitor performance. The customer gets a more reliable elevator and escalator.
  • Walker: When there are only two escalators side-by-side, if one escalator is out of service for repair (typically, for a modernization that takes many weeks to complete) the other escalator must be turned off so that customers may either walk up or down the remaining escalator. This is done to ensure the station remains accessible to customers by foot. Metro recommends using caution when walking on escalators and being courteous of other passengers.
  • Service Call: When an elevator/escalator is observed out of service unexpectedly by a station manager, Metro maintenance staff is called to complete an unscheduled repair. Staff evaluates the cause of the outage and begins repairs in order to bring the unit back in service and minimize customer inconvenience.
  • Scheduled Support: Elevators/escalators are occasionally taken out of service to support other maintenance activity in a station. Examples include lighting replacement and repairs to station ceiling and platform tiles.
  • Safety Inspection: Building codes require that elevators/escalators be inspected on a regular basis to ensure units are operating safely. Preventive maintenance compliance inspections are conducted to ensure repairs conform to maintenance standards. If an equipment problem is identified, the unit stays out of service as maintenance staff makes the necessary Inspection Repairs.
  • Customer Incident: Keeping elevators/escalators safe is Metro's top priority. If an incident/accident does takes place in/on an elevator/escalator, the unit is shut down so it can be inspected to ensure the unit is safe. See safety tips to prevent injury in a Metro elevator or on an escalator. If an equipment problem is identified, the unit stays out of service as maintenance staff makes the necessary Inspection Repairs.
  • Power Outage: When severe weather causes power outages, elevators/escalators can go out of service for several hours until power is restored by the utility company. Power surges can cause shorts in electrical equipment and motor rooms, taking units out of service until repairs are made.
  • Fire Alarm: If a sprinkler system is activated in a station due to a fire alarm, elevators and escalators are designed to shut off. If the sprinkler system remains on for an extended period of time, units may become deluged with water causing damage to mechanical and electrical systems. These units are taken out of service for repair.
  • Water Intrusion: An elevator/escalator may go out of service many weeks after a rain event as water seeps into the ground and collects at the bottom of the unit, causing damage to the equipment.
  • Weather Conditions: Mechanical and/or electrical damage may occur the day of a heavy rain event for elevators/escalators exposed to the elements as water cascades down the units, particularly entrance elevators and escalators. Winter icing and snow events also cause units to go out of service.