Metro General Manager Richard Sarles intends to hire outside contractors to expedite repair of the transit system’s escalators.
Sarles announced today that a request for proposals will be issued in a few days for workers to supplement WMATA’s in-house transit team. The contractors would maintain escalators at stations in Virginia, including Orange Line stations from Rosslyn to Vienna, with options that would include Foggy Bottom to New Carrollton, as well as escalator support for the new stations serving the rail extension to Dulles Airport.
“While we have made progress towards our maintenance compliance goals and improving the quality of repairs, we need to expand our efforts to give customers the safe and reliable escalators they deserve,” Sarles said in a statement. “Simply put, we need more people power to catch up and recover from years of poor maintenance practices. Metro’s escalators are a prime example of the rebuilding work that needs to be done throughout the system.”
Metro officials have said it would take years to recruit, hire and train a ready workforce for escalator repair. Contracting out a select amount of work could put supplemental workers in place by early next year, Metro officials said.
Deputy General Manager for Operations David Kubicek told the Metro Board that WMATA’s more ambitious repair program has resulted in double the number of out-of-service hours for escalators this year.
“We recognize that this intense effort has caused more escalators to be out of service at this time, but know that in the long run, customers will have more reliable escalators. However, considering our progress year to date, the feedback from outside experts, and the impact on our customers, we are moving as any business would to contract for the additional support to address this critical customer service,” Kubicek said.
In another move to expedite repairs, Metro plans to replace the three escalators at the 19th Street entrance of Dupont Circle early next year. The entrance will be closed while the work is under way. Details and a more complete schedule are expected later this fall.