“Green” elevators in NYC: Miserable failures (so far)

This is a prime example of taking the “going green” theme too far (h/t: ST reader and NYC resident Leslie):

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s experiment to introduce 35 “green” escalators in four subway stations started with a lurch on Monday. In some places, it didn’t start at all.

Escalators at the 34th Street-Herald Square and Roosevelt Island stations in Manhattan and the Jamaica-Van Wyck and Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer stations in Queens were to begin operating at variable speed, as part of a pilot program to save energy and reduce wear and tear.

According to signs posted by the authority, each escalator was equipped with an infrared motion sensor that “ ‘sees’ customers approaching and ‘tells’ the escalator to speed up.” The escalators are supposed to slow to just 15 feet per minute when no one is on them, from the normal speed of 100 feet per minute. When someone steps on, the escalators should accelerate gradually to the full speed over a few seconds.

Late in the day, officials acknowledged that only 22 of the 35 escalators at the four stations were working as intended. (There are 169 escalators in the subway system.)

Paul J. Fleuranges, a spokesman for New York City Transit, the arm of the authority that runs the subways, said that there were some technical glitches, but noted that not all of the 35 escalators had been activated to run at variable speeds, even though Monday was the program’s start date.


Even at the working escalators, there was some confusion. At one point, a man who was trying to go down to the subway platforms stepped on a slow-moving escalator, not realizing it was going up. As he walked down, the escalator suddenly activated, bringing him back toward the station.

He did not turn around, but instead tried to race against the escalator, toward the bottom. (Officials said the escalators have an alarm that sounds if someone tries to walk past the sensor when the escalator is going in the opposite direction, but it was not clear whether it had sounded.)

“It’s dangerous” said one passenger, Anthony Hack, 30. “Someone’s going to walk on it thinking it’s not working and then it’s going to start.”

It was also clear that some visitors were not accustomed to escalators of any speed.

Vijaya Lakshmi, 52, who was visiting from India and is unused to escalators, was hesitant to take the first step going up. She ended up falling, and sitting as the escalator moved. A man helped her to her feet, preventing her dress from getting caught in the escalator as she approached the top.

Can you say “lawsuit waiting to happen”? 

I know it’s fashionable to go all out on the “green” wave, but, c’mon, some things need to be left alone.  Like escalators.

In related news, ST reader Sev sends along a must-read link that dissects, analyzes, and debunks the hockey stick lie still being promoted by GW True Believers as the “gospel truth” as it relates to the discussion about whether or not global warming is “man-made.”  Make sure to read the whole thing.

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