Constantly running escalators at a closed T stop

Rachel Paiste asks:

Why are the escalators at Government Center constantly running when the station is closed? Seems like a waste of energy & $$




The T replies

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The MBTA responds:

The escalators at Government Center are running to keep them from freezing. This aids in their dismantling and removal.

Many of the Government Center escalator components are also being salvaged to use in other esc's of the same vintage/size.

For which Jason Richardson sought clarification:

Freezing from lack of lubrication from grease/oil, correct? Not because of the 60 degree weather?

And to which the T replied:

Yes, not weather-related freezing, but rather use-related "freezing."

I'm also impressed

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at the sheer idiocy of the MBTA.

$80 million to completely rebuild a station, and they apparently plan to re-use existing escalators that should have been replaced 15 years ago.

Reading it wrong

They're using the escalator parts to repair escalators elsewhere in the system. The new Government Center will have all-new escalators.


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They are salvaging components to use on other escalators in the system. Gov't Center is getting new ones.

That's not what it sounds

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That's not what it sounds like to me. It sounds like they were saying that they would dismantle them to use the parts on similar escalators at other stations, not at that station. They must be putting in brand new ones there, eventually.

In the words of the unnamed

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Georgia State Trooper in Smokey and the Bandit - "Disregard my last transmission."

Once again, I made a bad assumption by not reading the entire thread - the fact I've also seen those running escalators at GC didn't help either.

Of course, there's still the matter of the temporary floor to ceiling chain link fence they've been installing on the eastbound side to separate the construction zone from the track area - like that's really going to stop any errant construction debris.

I'm asking this question into

I'm asking this question into the ether, but do the elevators need to run 24/7 at full tilt to keep from freezing? (Maybe because of the salt air near GC they actually do.) I'm thinking of the many escalators I see in European airports that slow to a crawl when no one is using them and only speed up when someone activates the sensor.

Sensor activated escalators

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many escalators I see in European airports that slow to a crawl when no one is using them and only speed up when someone activates the sensor.

I remember seeing them all over Germany. Like over twenty years ago. I've never seen them in use in the US.

I guess what I'm saying is

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think the actual mechanics of the escalators are any different on the ones that slow down, but it might be that the salt air in Boston makes those more maintenance prone. I don't know.

And, I agree with you, I've never seen a slow-down elevator in use in the US. In Germany, some of the escalators stop completely when no one uses them, but I wonder if the electricity used in revving up the motor(s) several times a day actually turns out to use more electricity than running them slowly.

How old are they?

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Remember, these escalators are old. Really old. As far as I know they have exactly two speeds; on and never-moving-again.

They're Way Too Old For That

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Variable speed escalators are a relatively new innovation. They require new electronic controls that the Government Center escalators don't have

It sounds like a good idea, and probably works well in some places, but they are not without problems, as told in this story from the New York Times.
James Estrin/The New York Times

It makes sense for the Ⓣ to keep the old Government Center escalators running until they are removed. They are so old and dirty that I'm sure many of the bearings and other moving parts would become stiff or seize up very quickly if turned off for any length of time. They've already taken apart the escalator that ran up from the Scollay Under platform. So it probably won't be long before the other escalators are disassembled too

I'm glad the Ⓣ is making an extra effort to protect and salvage the usable components, so that other escalators in the system can be kept running for passengers!

Older escalators tend to freeze when shut off

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I worked in a place that had two indoor escalators. We were told to not shut them off at night because they likely wouldn't start again without the aid of a repair tech. They were old, but not ancient, so I was a little skeptical. Well, little kids love to push buttons and would frequently hit the emergency stop. We had to call the tech almost every single time to get them serviced and going again because we couldn't get them going with our keys. And forget about trying to get them moving in the opposite direction of the one they were originally going (in case the up side died, reversing the down side). It was really irritating.

Porter Sq

At Porter, I would frequently see the middle escalator running down in the morning, and up in the evening. I'm not sure who initiates these changes or how, but it was definitely done.

Helps save labor

Don't forget, there is a lot of stuff being ripped out of the station. While a lot of it will go out via high rail vehicles on the green line tracks, there is still a lot going up those escalators to ground level. Hauling heavy stuff up a moving escalator saves time which saves labor which saves money. What's cheaper? Turning the escalators off or paying for more man hours to haul stuff up the escalators? For example, all signs being salvaged were lugged up those escalators.

We're not actually repairing

We're not actually repairing the station, we're shooting another sweet music video and needed the escalators available for choreography. #MBTA

Been trying to forget them

OMFG they were horrible. The first time I encountered one in Boston, I wondered what century it was. They were always worn out and slippery, too, of course.

Add high heels and a wet day for extra drama.

Kachunk kachunk kachunk

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I loved those; I'd take the Chauncy exit on purpose. I think London got rid of them because they posed a fire hazard.