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MBTA says reversing escalator that injured nine was inspected just three weeks ago

WBZ reports the latest on the up escalator that suddenly reversed direction at Back Bay yesterday, sending nine people to the hospital (story has graphic details on what happened to one little girl and her mother).

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Comments

Hmmm, that looks bad.

Yep.

*writes up some notes*

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And after the notes are sent in:

"Hmmm. Another bad escalator report."

"Rubber room it. You know they don't like bad news requiring them to do something."

Get the best law firm to fuck up the MBTA up and Kone. You're gonna need them.

after reading what happened to the one young girl and her mother alone. There needs to be accountability, which I know is a laughable concept at the MBTA.

it starts. This family deserves every penny coming to them.

Those little emergency stop buttons at the ends of the escalator are are way too far out of reach. There must be a better way to implement that.

Elevators have a variety of failsafes, including free-fall detectors. I don't know what kind of safety features are common or available for escalators, but I could suggest:

- Solenoid-based brakes that have to be actively disengaged, and which would clamp the steps if power was lost or the control circuit died.

- Sensor that checks whether the expected movement matches the actual movement; if not, start engaging brakes and sound alarm.

- Start/stop sequence that does not go immediately from full power to none, but instead tapers the power. (This would help make direction reversals safer. EDIT: Not sure if that's relevant in this case; the previous two measures might be more relevant.)

- Sensors around the pinch points where the steps and handrail feed back under, so that anything "prying it open" (e.g. a shoe getting sucked in) applies the brakes.

- Guards along the left and right edges of the steps. (Already exists on many escalators; probably could be done better.)

Some of these safety mechanisms would then increase maintenance burden, such as by false positives or just by increasing the number of parts to maintain, but... it's probably worth it.

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at Porter or Andrew.

I don't want to.

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aren't reversible. So, I could imagine them suddenly stopping (which would not be good), but they wouldn't then change direction.

While it's not nearly as long as the escalators at Porter or Andrew, I could imagine something like this happening with the single reversible escalator at the TD Garden to North Station subway connection.

That is, I seem to remember it going both ways. Can anyone confirm or refute that?

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Did this escalator reverse direction but continue at the same speed, only in the opposite direction (as if someone flipped a direction switch) or did it completely loose all traction and slide in reverse rapidly?

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I don't know, but about a year or two ago something like this happened at Malden Center. It felt like it basically just started accelerating under the weight of the people on it.

Luckily, Malden's escalator is short and it started to decelerate fairly quickly as people jumped off it, but a bunch of people bumped into each other. If it had kept accelerating there would have been injuries.

There was definitely friction in the system at Malden and it wasn't exactly *rapid*, but it was definitely not controlled.