NYC Variable-Speed Escalators Off to Less-Than-Smooth Start
A plan by NYC to turn over 35 subway escalators to variable speed operation — all in the name of green because of the energy savings — began in fits and starts, literally. So reports the NYT in an article about the debut of the new escalator operating mode earlier this month.
“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…late in the day, officials acknowledged that only 22 of the 35 escalators at the four stations were working as intended.”
See a video of a variable speed escalator in correct mode.
While it’s not clear what the problems were, variable speed motor control (first introduced in the 1930s) is extremely reliable when designed properly. What may not be so reliable is how passengers first respond to the new technology — as evidenced by the photo above, which shows on launch day a passenger, unfamiliar with escalators, who fell when the speed increased and remained seated for the ride up.