UW escalator

Escalator update at University of Washington Station

Big performance improvements

Publish Date

Two years ago, we told you about the poor performance of the escalators at UW Station.

We recognized that the unreliability of the escalators was a significant problem for our passengers and pledged to fix the problem by replacing the existing escalators.

Today, the Sound Transit Board received an update on the situation

The good news is that we have fixed the problem.

At the worst point, in December 2018, the escalators at UW Station were unavailable nearly 27% of the time.

By August of this year, that number had dropped to 2.5%. Our standard for performance is at least 95% availability, and the UW Station escalators have exceeded that level of performance for well over a year.

The even better news is that, because of this continued level of improved performance, we will not have to replace the escalators at the station at this time.

We were able to achieve this success by employing a number of changes. For one, we opened the back stairs at the UW Station in March 2019. This provided passengers an additional way of exiting the station and the stress on elevators and escalators during peak commute times.

We also changed vendors for our maintenance of escalators and elevators. The new contract puts a special emphasis on preventive maintenance. We now have technicians on site at the station Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to respond quickly to any outages.

In addition, we invested $100,000 in on-site spare inventory parts to reduce the need to wait for spare parts to fix a problem.

The performance of vertical conveyances (escalators and elevators) is generally high throughout the Link system, with the exception of the four stations in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT). All but one of the 36 escalators and 22 elevators in those stations are beyond their useful service life, and breakdowns are all too common.

Sound Transit expects to take ownership of the DSTT from King County Metro next year, at which point we can begin the work of fixing and ultimately replacing the escalators and conveyances.

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