PATCO escalator down too long, official says

Posted: November 23, 2013

A broken escalator at PATCO's busy Eighth and Market Streets station has been out of service too long and must be repaired promptly, said Jeffrey L. Nash, vice chairman of the board that oversees the commuter rail line.

"New people are going to be working on it Monday," Nash said Thursday. "They've ordered the part and they need to install it."

The north escalator has been broken since August, one of several out-of-service escalators and elevators that have plagued the line for months. John Rink, general manager of PATCO, said a damaged shaft needed to be replaced.

"It's unacceptable. My apologies to the riders," Nash said. "We are going to make changes. Fresh eyes are going to be looking at this."

PATCO allowed its maintenance contract for escalators and elevators to lapse July 31, leading to a cascade of failures, a storm of complaints from riders, and an investigation by the Federal Transit Administration.

Officials at PATCO and its parent, the Delaware River Port Authority, apologized to the public and promised to move quickly to fix the problems.

PATCO turned to SEPTA, which has its own repair crews, to fix its elevators and escalators. SEPTA worked on eight PATCO units and was able to return five to service, at least temporarily.

In September, PATCO awarded a $1.39 million, three-year maintenance contract to Fujitec America Inc. of Sharon Hill, the U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer of most of PATCO's escalators.

But two escalators have remained broken for weeks: at Eighth and Market, and at the Ashland station in Voorhees.

At Ashland, someone has written on the out-of-service barricade how long the escalator has been broken. "3 weeks" has been crossed out and replaced with "4 weeks."

"This is going to be a top priority," Nash said. "It is recognized as an enormous problem."


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587 @nussbaumpaul

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