By Aubrey Gelpieryn
WASHINGTON – As part of the multi-million dollar project to amp up the Washington Metro, new escalators were opened to the public on Wednesday at the Bethesda station.
According to Bethesda Station Manager S. Kelly, before the three new escalators were installed, there were only two that worked- one that went up, and one that went down. The newly installed escalators also featured speakers that projected safety instructions.
Kelly said that she’s noticed a big difference since the new escalators have been installed, and that it’s quicker for people who commute using the Metro now that they have two elevators that go up.
“It’s much better now– very much better,” said Kelly.
Kelly also said that it sometimes got “really busy” when the construction was taking place to put the new ones in.
According to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s website, the Bethesda’s entrance escalators, which are are 212 feet long, are the second longest in the Metrorail system and among the longest in the Western Hemisphere. It cost $8.4 million to replace the three escalators at the entrance; the previous ones had been in use since the station opened in 1984.
For some of the Bethesda Metro commuters, however, the new installment didn’t seem too important.
Lily Asrat, who said she rides the Metro to and from the Bethesda station every day, wasn’t even aware of the change. While she said she noticed the construction while it was happening it never really impacted her commute; she didn’t take note that the escalators had been replaced until it was specifically pointed out to her.
“I didn’t notice it, so that says something,” said Asrat, She added, however, that she thinks it’s important for the city to continue to invest in improving transportation and the Metro in order to maintain reliable public transportation.
Another metro rider, Leigh Rieder, said this was actually the first time since 2010, when she moved away from Washington, that she was riding on the Metro again.
While she noted that the new escalators were “worth it to so many people who live in the area,” the first thing she noticed when she arrived at the station was actually that the station seemed more confusing than she remembered.
“I’ve been using the Metro system for many, many years now, and I yet I couldn’t quite figure out where I was going,” said Rieder.
Rieder said that the most confusing part was all of the signage around the station, most of which related to shutdowns and restricted access across the different Metro stations. These shutdowns are part of a greater effort to improve the public transportation system across Washington.
According to a statement made by the agency, “Metro is in the middle of a $151 million plan to replace more than 130 escalators by the end of the decade.”
The next stations where riders can expect to see new escalators are Friendship Heights and Medical Center, according to WTOP.
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Aubrey Gelpieryn is a journalist currently in New York. She enjoys writing about music, politics and current events.