Son's feet sucked in, mother trampled when escalator breaks at Back Bay station

The instant before the escalator ground to a halt. Photo by Jennifer Nottage.The instant before the escalator went into reverse. Photo by Jennifer Nottage.

Jennifer Nottage and her two kids, Alyana, 6, and Elijah, 12, were among the scores streaming up the escalator from the Back Bay commuter-rail stop for the Bruins parade yesterday morning when things came to a crashing halt. In e-mail, the South Attleboro resident writes:

My kids, ages 6 and 12 and I were about 3/4 of the way up. I was taking pics of the crowd.

At that moment, the chain or something snapped and the escalator flew backwards. People fell screaming ran up if they could. I lifted my daughter (the 6 year old) up. She grabbed the railing and held on. Someone on the stairs pulled her to safety.

My son's feet got sucked into the escalator stair part. He yanked them out, his shoes stayed behind. He was cut and bleeding.

When I fell forward, people trampled over me - foot prints on my back, etc.! My left thigh and knee were stuck slightly in the escalator stair; I pulled it out, raced to top where my kids were. We were all in shock! Went to hospital, etc., nothing broken but crazy intense pain in my leg and back. My son's ankle is a balloon this morning.

Nottage's leg after the incident:

Nottage's leg.



Free tagging: 



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Maybe if you hadn't been distracted by taking pictures while riding a moving escalator, you could have reacted quicker and not gotten trampled and injured. Best of luck on the lawsuit you're clearly attempting to lay the groundwork for.

When you immediately jump to

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When you immediately jump to the worst conclusion and bust out a nasty attitude, it says more about you than the subject of the article.

A kid was hurt, but hope you enjoyed sitting in your mom's basement typing your snarky reply

She says right in the email

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She says right in the email that she was distracted taking pictures with two young children in a crowded scene on what is already a chaotic area of a large city. Snarky re: lawsuit yes, but I do have some issues with the judgement of taking pictures on an escalator, a piece of machinery that requires attention when you use it.

In general people are much

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In general people are much too cavalier about riding escalators and, more troublesome, being in very crowded situations.
I try not to put myself in them. A broken door, closed gate or other usually minor things, can set off a chain of events that can easily lead to trampling and crushing.

This is crowd dynamics at work and usually not a case of callousness or disregard by individuals.

Hi, Jennifer!

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Like I said, good luck with your lawsuit. Maybe you can use the money to take some remedial lessons on how to not take photos while you're supposed to be helping your young kids on a mechanical contraption that quite obviously has the capacity to cause injury.


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Maybe she would've stayed upright, but the escalator still would have sucked her son's legs in. It's not like MBTA escalators have an unblemished record.

Hi Stewart the Self Righteous Asinine Git

When you get done feeling oh so superior about the laugh you get over serious injuries to children, maybe you can share some of your oh so wonderful worldly advice with the elderly population.

When you get done thinking that an old lady getting strangled to death is a hoot. Oh, then again we can't EXPECT that PUBLIC ACCOMODATIONS be safe for any but the most SELECT public, as determined by STEWART!

Maybe your clothing will get trapped someday - and maybe the people around you will be like you and just stand there and laugh about how much you deserve it. It isn't a zero probability, given how poor the safety record is here.

And hi to Swirly The All-Knowing

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It's entirely possible that I may someday be injured on an MBTA escalator. As Adam rightly points out, the MBTA's record is in no way spotless.

But you know what?

I sure as fuck won't be taking pictures when it happens!

The fact that this person was deliberately doing something distracting while riding an escalator -- and I'm glad to see you share my conviction that escalators can be dangerous, btw -- is what I am quite justifiably mocking her for. I'd also be mocking her if she had happened to be tweeting when she got into a car crash on 128. She put herself into an unsafe situation, and when an unrelated accident happened, she was injured worse than she would have been if she'd been paying attention to her surroundings.

It's a terrible pity that you don't understand that distinction.

You have a nice day, now.


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Are you serious?

Had she tripped at the top of a properly operating escalator because she wasn't paying attention, then you would only be showing a high level of insensitivity to the injury of a fellow human being. However, this comment...

I'd also be mocking her if she had happened to be tweeting when she got into a car crash on 128

...shows that you're just trying to justify being a total asshole. Escalators take some level of attention, but riding one is not comparable to driving a car.

I'm sure she wasn't the only person hurt, she's the only one we've heard from so far. So, please explain to me how it is all the fault of the people hurt even if they weren't taking photos just prior to the failure of the escalator?

It's not.

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The escalator accident would have happened even if no one had been taking pictures. As I've noted, the escalator accident and the picture-taking are two unrelated things.

That doesn't mean it isn't dangerous to distract yourself on an escalator by taking pictures, or that it's entirely possible that she wouldn't have gotten AS injured if she hadn't been distracted.

I'm really sorry you're unable to grasp that distinction. However, I'm also tired of explaining it over and over, so y'all go ahead and bleat and shriek about it.

The fourloko ban

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Must be catching up.

Seriously, it's the same thing effecting the GOP. "It's not my problem, and frak you, unless it happens to me."

Must be nice to get that sort of schadenfreude while you're worried about your own last piece of the pie (Stewart). Have a ball, as you realize you're the only one left.

Using an iPod on a train is just as "dangerous", and I'm sure our callous prince has most likely done that before.

I dare you

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I dare you to never drive a car, turn the radio on, and switch stations for the rest of your life, you pompous windbag. Riding an escalator is a passive affair; driving isn't. How dare you contemplate ever distracting yourself while piloting such a large piece of metal around the streets with the capacity to injure someone else without thinking of the children.

If you ever do or even get into a car where someone else does, then you're either a hypocrite or an idiot for arguing taking a picture on an escalator is dangerous for fear of the escalator failing mid-ride.


Thank you Kaz

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Thank you Kaz. I was reading this thread of comments with increasing frustration, and I'm glad you chimed in with some sense.

Riding an escalator IS passive. It's not the woman's fault for getting TRAMPLED by a crowd because she was taking a picture with her phone when the escalator broke.

"Stewart": Your such a

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"Stewart": Your such a coward... Yes I took one photo and the phone was AWAY before this incident happened! My children are well cared for and both very safe and well manored themselves. I am a great mother and was protecting my children which is why I got as injured as I did. My motherly protective instincts went to work and I was holding my kids making sure they didnt get trapped under people rather than worrying about my legs. I hope some day Karma comes and bites you in your a**.

Well I hope I am there to

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Well I hope I am there to take a snapshot of it! When an if it does happen and we can all have a great big laugh at you!


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She injured herself getting her daughter out of danger and you're calling her a bad parent? Don't you have the underside of a bridge to be patrolling?

First I was contacted and my

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First I was contacted and my story was requested. I did not seek anyone out to air this! I was not laying "groundwork". However I am not even going to entertain those disgusting remarks. I am just thanking God that my children are OK. I am truly blessed that things were not worse. The photo I took was to capture my best friend and god son who were on the stairs. I was not distracted and my iPhone was back placed away by the time the moment happened when the escalator malfunctioned. This incident was not due to passenger negligence this was due to a piece of machinery malfunctioning. One thing is for sure I will never ride one again! I am holding my children a little tighter today!

Your son's ankle is sprained,

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Your son's ankle is sprained, at the very least. It's possible that it did not turn up as broken on the X-ray. As someone who has sprained my ankles way too many times, in my experience the bones in the ankle are very complex and it does not take much. A ballooning swollen ankle is a key symptom. You should have the doctor take another look.

To back her up

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She did not just send me the account and photos out of the blue. Somebody tweeted about the elevator malfunctioning, wondered if anybody knew anything about it. I didn't (ironically, my daughter and I were passing through Back Bay station at pretty much that exact moment on the Orange Line on our way to State), so I re-tweeted that. Somebody from Channel 4 then tweeted something about the accident (basically making it sound kind of minor), which I then also retweeted (yeah, I do that a lot). So my Twitter handle is all over the accident, then Ms. Nottage replied and said she was right in the middle of it all, so after expressing my sympathy, I asked what happened.

It must be wonderful to live in a world where nothing bad ever happens and you never for an instant turn your head away; it must be so hard to visit our less than perfect world where MBTA escalators do injure people (adults, even, not just little kids).

I am really sorry that you

I am really sorry that you are being bombarded with all the nasty comments. Please ignore the trolls, you had nothing to do with the escalator failing. The escalator was most likely over loaded carrying more weight than it should have.

I am glad your son and daughter are okay. This accident was preventable. I always avoid escalators, the idea of riding up a dozen steps instead of walking them is not worth the trade off of possible injury.

I'm an occupational safety engineer. I spend my life telling people to stop running, wear seat belts, and stay safe.

T escalators are like Jacob's Ladder

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I would like to say thanks to the great work done by MBTA workers yesterday. On the flip side how many passengers have been killed or injured by these escalators of death. I remember a poor lady being killed at State Steet and a man strangled by the escalator at Porter and kids injured at Aquarium and Back Bay.


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unless you were there you can't realize how fast it happened.there was no time for anyone to didn't stop then change direction it just changed.I was on the stairs and helped a lady grab a little girl off it that was trying to run up the stairs

MikeB - were you the angel

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MikeB - were you the angel that saved my daughter?!?? It was my daughter with the short brown curly hair!!!! I didnt have time to stop and thank you and I was in shock but if this was you, your a lifesaver and THANK YOU so much!!!!! You have no idea what that meant to me!!!!!!!! You are truly an angel!!!!

Extremely dangerous

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Extremely dangerous conditions on the T yesterday.
I had to take an outbound Redline train to Braintree and then turn around on it to come back. Inbound trains were full at Quincy Center. Trains waited forever at stations b/c people wouldn't stand clear for doors to close.
Once on board people could not get off until the trains got downtown.
Combo of crowds, rowdiness and inebriation and inexperienced people riding the T made for a potentially fatal mix.

If any of those RedLine trains were delayed even slightly it would have gotten ugly on board.

The afternoon was a little less crowded but many people were hammered.

I had to work in the Back Bay and I'll never put myself in those conditions again. I would have been very nervous if I had children with me.

It stinks that it happened to

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It stinks that it happened to you and your kids and i am glad everyone is OK but escalators are no place to be taking pictures, dialing a number or texting. As someone who has been on the T everyday for 30 years I see way too many people doing all of the above. I also notice parents bringing their kids for a "big day in the city" from the burbs who have no idea how to ride the T (I am not saying this person is one of them).

If you are not normally on the T here are a few tips that will not only help you but also help the daily riders not want to maim you:

1) have your kids sit on their bums and not stand on the seats to oh and ah at everything outside. Doing this will either dirty the seats or have them jerk backwards if the train make a sudden movement.

2) do not have your kids or yourself try to play the game of "look at me I'm not holding on, isn't that cool?" Not so cool when they fall and you are surprised that "something like that could have happened."

3) do not sit on the steps in front of the doors. Those aren't seats they are stairs for people to get on and off. Don't get mad when you are stepped on b/c you or your children did not move off said stairs.

4) Take your backpack off and place it on your feet.

5) do not stand in from of the doors. This is a train we use the doors to get on and off. Yes, I know the train is crowded - we deal with it every day.

6) when boarding with you clan don't just stand in the middle of the aisle - move so the people can move freely. You may have to stand in separate spots.

5) do not allow your kids to play on the escalators (yes, I see this all the time). it's not a toy.

6) pay attention whilst on escalators - this goes for children and adults. If something happens b/c of you I'm gonna be pissed.

7) Realize that accidents happen. Though I am no fan of the MBTA it's not always their fault when escalators malfunction. They are machines that are used every day and sometimes they break. We hope no one gets hurt when this happens but sometimes people do.

Thank you and have a nice day.

I thought more people in Boston had smart phones

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Even for us lowly Android users, taking a photo with one basically involves pressing a button; it's not like an SLR where you're concentrating on setting up the shot and focusing and stuff.

As for proper escalator etiquette, even people outside 128 have experience with escalators these days.

"They are machines that are used every day and sometimes they break. We hope no one gets hurt when this happens but sometimes people do."

So that's it, then? Whoever's in charge of maintaining this escalator has nothing to answer for? People shouldn't have any expectation of basic safety when riding one?

Escalators at the Garden

Funny how they seem to be able to handle crowds and peak loads like this without incident.

They seem to be able to transport intoxicated people, people wearing rubber shoes, children, and elderly folk in winter clothing without killing or maiming anyone.

Ever been there when a game lets out?

Do they just suppress news of massive fails of escalators when they happen at the facility and pay the for the medical care? OR DO THEY JUST NOT SEEM TO HAVE THESE TOTAL FAILURES UNDER SIMILAR CONDITIONS?

Anyone know either way?

The Garden is a relatively

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The Garden is a relatively new building.
There elevators are not running probably 95% of the time.
Less wear and tear.

T escalators run almost 20

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T escalators run almost 20 hrs a day 7 days a week.
Garden's run maybe 4 hrs when there us an event.

You went to MIT Ron. Do the math.

Try another Department

Like Urban Design ... you plan, install, and maintain for expected loads.

Actually, you don't need an MIT degree to figure that out.

Again, lets talk about whether these things happen with with frequency in other areas and places - what about other transit systems? I tried google, but either my search terms fail me or the MBTA is the hands down, #1 producer of escalator mayhem, despite being a relatively small city.

Yep, regular google searches are geographically biased

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Even turning off cookies doesn't stop that - google's servers look at your comp's IP# to geo-locate you.

It turns out that there is a confluence of MA stories right now (above MBTA story, an Auburn Mall sears death in march, MA Senate law debate).

But if you use an anonymizer like et al, and look at news stories evenly over the last decade or so, you'll see that it's a problem all over the planet. Most english-language stories seem to be about major US cities and - strangley - Japan (maybe they have lots of escalators?). When i opened it up to non-English stories, it looks like a lot of northern European countries pop up.

All this may have more to do with the relative number of escalators present in these places, and the local expectations for passenger safety.


I thought my google fu seemed a bit off lately.

I suspect the T has a lot of issues due to the sheer number of escalators - and the lack of ramps and historic treatment of elevators as something novel and special. I'm surprised that DC doesn't have more issues - they have some seriously long ones. It could be that taking the elevator on the T is a massive drag as well, so a more vulnerable class of people use the escalators when they might use an elevator in another city. I have noticed, when travelling with luggage, that most cities have a single shaft run to the top - but Boston has multiple elevator transfers with obscure "hunt the elevator" game in between that makes it attractive to use the escalators instead - even when encumbered, using crutches, etc,

T is also oldest subway in

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T is also oldest subway in nation.
Not BB station but the age of the system in general should be considered.

DC has TONS of issues.

DC has TONS of issues. Their 1977 Westinghouses are constantly breaking and even injuring passengers. It's not uncommon for up to 80 escalators to be out-of-service on a single day. Last time I was in DC, 45 escalators were out-of-service.

A couple months ago they had a major incident happen where the escalator reversed sending multiple passengers flying into a pile of people at the bottom.

Not only that

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Budget Cuts & State Contracted Work

First you need to get them built properly. Second you need the money to properly maintain them and then tools to go after the maintenance companies that try to skirt their responsibilities.

Right now the state of our infrastructure is embarrassing, if not dangerous. Tax Cut's as the golden rule mantra has really screwed us, so much so they're now tax expenditures with borrowed money from China (Were borrowing money to give tax cuts).

The fools errand needs to stop.

Efficiency is a better focus, then $2.50 more a year in your pocket. It would save us more to boot (but isn't as a sexy a political prop )

Back Bay has older-model Otis

Back Bay has older-model Otis escalators, while the Garden has (what was at the time) the top-of-the-line Montgomery escalators & elevators (which I believe have now been upgraded/modernized by KONE). The T has neglected many of its escalators and elevators from this era because they have no money to upgrade them. It's a miracle that the horrible Westinghouse elevator in Porter is finally being redone. Ideally, since MassDOT has a contract with KONE, it would be nice if they could do KONE EcoMods to all the crappy escalators they installed in the 80s that constantly breakdown and are safety hazards.

Thanks for your tips for the

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Thanks for your tips for the public. Having lived in the city and traveled on the MBTA for many years I know the dangers and annoyances. Just to make it clear my children were perfectly still, standing in front of me, holding hands, my little one holding my hand... And the railings. The crowd was so large there was no way anyone could even move a little!

Good rules for T rookies. You

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Good rules for T rookies. You can generalize them for a crash course for non-urbanites on moving about the city.

You could basically boil it down to "Watch where the fuck you're going and get out of the way of traffic."
The middle of doorways and sidewalks is not a good place to stand in the city. Ever.
You're not in your kitchen on your front lawn.

As for escalators this is indeed a problem and not specific suburbanites. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people go up escalators with baby carriages and maybe a Dunkies on one hand as well. Insane, and all for the slight convenience of not wanting to take the time and effort to find the elevator and safely negotiate the floor change with your precious child.
Not to mention how much you're endangering all of the people below you on the escalator.

There should be major fines for this and/or child endangerment warnings and charges if warranted.

I'll thank you for

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I'll thank you for NOTHING.
You advocate carriages on escalators or groups of tourists not heeding the advice to get out of doorways and stop being 6 abreast on sidewalks?

Visitors should learn these rules to have an enjoyable stay. Parents should learn not to endanger their children.

They'll have more fun if they're not offending everyone and may meet pleasant people as opposed to chapped people who had to fight past them in a doorway or on a sidewalk.

I'm a good-will ambassador for Boston.
I give directions and am pleasant and helpful.
And i helpfully mention that you might want to get the fuck out of the way when you don't know where you're going and the rest of us do.

Trust me I do!

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Trust me I do!

the incident

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I'm sorry but i think people are far too quick to judge the parenting here which clearly isnt where the flaw is...So what she took pictures...Everyone took pictures SEE FACEBOOK! This is another example of an MBTA incident which there is always one when you have flash mobs and major events while dealing with a transportation system that never gets upgraded. Furthermore, By reading the story it looks as though it was so packed there that if it was gonna happen it would have been impossible from her location to just leap over a hundred people and perform miracles!

God I love U Hub

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A kid almost gets his feet chewed off by an escalator, a woman gets trampled, and the first reply is bitching out the mom. Stay classy Boston!

Like the Globe

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There's nothing saying the comments originated from a Bostonian.

In fact, I'm seeing both sides of the Bostonian ideological spectrum coming together to tell him, "Hey guy, stop being a douche and shut the hell up". That's pretty rare here.

Troll and anon comments are the bird shit of the internet. Either ignore it, or pile on in the direction you think the thread should go. In this case it's apparent we all think he should go to hell this time.

I was here

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I am in this photo at the bottom of the escalator, it was a little nerve racking at first when people went frantic. Might i add that those doors are one way so me being at the end of the line had no where to go because the door does not open up to get away from the falling people. i saw the people that they are referring to and they were not that badly banges up, scrapes and such but the ones that got it the worst just walked away. it was not quite AS bad as she if making it out to be. you lived, your fine, get over it like the rest of us.

I also am in this photo with

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I also am in this photo with my two family members who were dragged down and trampled and all have injuries. I am glad you didn't end up at the bottom of a pile of people while these backwards moving stairs dug into our backs and ankles threatening to pull our clothing in and injuring us more. It was a FRIGHTENING experience and I don't appreciate your callousness.

I'm so sorry you had to go

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I'm so sorry you had to go through that also! It was so scary! The news stations have been hounding me today all day all I want to do is rest... Now in bed thank God :) I hope you and your family members feel better soon also!!!! My leg is very hard to walk on and back / neck are killing me!!! Saw an ER dr already - off to primary for follow up this week. Take care and get some rest.

Yes I lived I'm ok thank god

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Yes I lived I'm ok thank god but you may have walked by us but didn't see what the EMS saw or what our x rays saw so u go get over it and don't be rude. Too bad you weren't in my place with injuries which are very painful and I could've switched with you an walked by and then left snyde comments - I'm done. People are awful! I'm thankful for those that do have empathy and a heart. I am blessed to have had those sweet people that stopped to help. It's OK God sees all and karma is a B!

Like an elevator, escalators have weight limits

Sadly unlike elevators, not only are the weight limits not posted but when escalators fail they don't just stop, they buckle and some times flatten. Remember escalators are not supported like stairs are. Those "steps" are little more than an half inch of metal riding on a track. Just looking at the picture posted above I have to believe that escalator was over loaded. I don't know the exact weight limit of that one set of escalators, so as a rule I tend to avoid escalators that have become crowded.

I do feel sorry for the woman who's children were hurt. I hope the T starts posting warnings about over loading escalators. There was nothing she or any one could have prevented. Well not really, the MBTA could and should do some thing! This accident was preventable.

Thanks for the info. Should

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Thanks for the info.
Should have realized it but never did.
I posted earlier and said I'd never knowingly put myself in a crowd like that on the T again.
This reinforces it.

I saw a T spokesman trying to say he had heard of no major problems.

The T 's problems with handling a crowd of this size should be addressed before Menino or anyone else claims the T is the responsible way to come into the city for these type of events.

Escalator overloading and

Escalator overloading and subsequent failure is a problem in many cities during parades or other public events. If there's a crowd, take the stairs if you can, although escalators tend to fail in stations where there are very long escalators (like Porter), which discourage using stairs.

As noted above, there is a not well posted weight limit for escalators, although I doubt posting it would help much.

escalator weight limits

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I would assume escalators are designed to hold a full load -- two people on each step. Is that not the case?

An escalator in a subway system is going to fill up any time a crowded train arrives.

Crowds were quadruple

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Crowds were quadruple anything I've ever seen at rush hour.
Every train packed to the gills and huge numbers getting off at certain stops.

This was like a hundred year flood.

Yes, but the maximum number

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Yes, but the maximum number of people on an escalator at any given moment will be 2 people per step. That could easily happen during a regular rush hour after a train arrives, although the crowd would clear sooner.

I totally agree.

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I don't know why so many people are so darn judgmental of others - really.
Why can't we be civil to each other?

The Travel and Leisure poll....

...ranks Boston as one of the least friendly of American cities. Historically speaking, when did snarling incivility become a cultural norm here (even if not the _only_ mode of behavior, thank heaven)?


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Well, thinking of something more positive - most folks are cool and I try to remember that, daily! I figure those that are always pointing fingers at others are most likely miserable folks in their own right. And I feel sorry for them.

Nice people are more common....

...but it only takes a few nasty and/or rage-filled individuals to create a very bad impression. (By contrast, we were recently in Paris for almost 2 weeks and never encountered one of these).

Can I suggest

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Facebook login requirements.

Seems to have fixed some other sites comments sections. Plus you get to match a real person with the crazy when it unbashfully comes.

I've long been against it, but it seems we have some serial anon trolls leaking over from the Herald/Globe (That probably aren't even from the area)

**raises hand**

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yeah, not to be one of those "i don't use facebook" people, but i really don't use facebook.

but i do have a registered handle on universal hub that i've had for over 5 years, and i would sort of like to think that should be good enough to be able to comment here.

I was on the escalator when

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I was on the escalator when the accident occurred. It was one scary experience. I got stuck on the bottom and my shirt got stuck in the stairs. Some nice guy was helping people up including myself. Thankfully there are nice people around. I didn't want to go to Boston for the rally and I was actually headed towards the stairs. My friend dodged into the escalator and I followed. Next time I'm going to go with my instincts. I'll be taking the stairs from now on.