Friday, May 25th, 2012,
(WASHINGTON) —District of Columbia Metro riders were left frozen in bewilderment Thursday morning after an escalator (yes, a single escalator) began inexplicably functioning at the Chinatown-Gallery Place metro exit along the capital’s Green, Yellow, and Red lines.
Metro riders, used to the public transit system’s escalators doing anything but escalating them, stood in trance-like confusion around the grooved metal steps as they rotated upward, seemingly by themselves, with no visible human operating them. Hundreds of people eventually gathered around the rotating steps, some taking pictures and i-Phone videos.
By the time District commuters mustered the understanding and courage to step on the working escalator, over an hour in crucial mid-morning backup had accrued.
“I’m still shaking. Nobody knew what to do,” said Ayalla Mahmoudi, a 30-year-old systems analyst on her way to Bethesda, Maryland from Alexandria. “The steps were moving by themselves! They just kept appearing and appearing, coming out of the ground, like from nowhere. It was, like, so freaky!”
Mahmoudi was one of the first “wave” of a dozen or so commuters who realized they were supposed to step on to the metallic steps and be elevated to the above platform automatically, rather than walk up the steps manually, as D.C. metro riders have been accustomed to doing ever since the capital’s Metro system went into operation in 1976.
According to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s General Manager Richard Sarles, Metro regrets the incident and any inconvenience or panic it may have caused commuters. “People stepping on our escalators and actually riding them up to other floors is something Metro deeply regrets,” stated Sarles in a press release Friday. “We apologize for any confusion or fear this may have caused Metro riders, and we promise Metro will be disabling the functioning escalator in question, and that commuters will again be walking up all of our escalators as usual.”