MTA elevators, escalators need repair: Liu

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City Comptroller John Liu said his agency has issued recommendations to the MTA after an audit found transit officials have grown lax in maintenance and safety oversight of subway elevators and escalators.

The Transit Authority, the MTA division which operates the subway system and buses, said it “concurs with all of the recommendations made in the audit report and agrees that most of them offer meaningful ways to improve the overall performance of our expansive network of elevators and escalators.”

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority just has to escalate and elevate its commitment to make sure that escalators and elevators are working,” Liu said. “Transit riders, especially seniors and people with disabilities, rely heavily on the MTA to make stations accessible,” the audit said.

“MTA’s sloppy performance in inspecting and maintaining elevators and escalators increases the risk of breakdowns, which not only causes trouble for straphangers but also jeopardizes safety,” the audit said.

The audit found:

• more than one-fourth — 27 percent — of required, preventative maintenance assignments for the test periods reviewed were not constantly performed

• scheduled maintenance system work is not constantly performed

• five-year safety tests were lacking or not properly performed

• NYCT does not have sufficient, credible data by which it can adequately assess its performance

• NYCT lacks formal operating procedures and thus creates loopholes in supervising and monitoring its crews

Liu’s audit recommended:

• ensuring that required preventive maintenance and scheduled maintenance system work is performed and supported by the work reports that are signed off on by work teams and their respective supervisors

• keeping track of and investigating each elevator and escalator for the repeated periods of nonperformance of preventive and scheduled maintenance work

• immediately performing the five-year safety tests on elevators that were scheduled but not tested in 2008 and 2009

• ensuring all required documentation reflecting work performed by field crews is completed by work crews and retained

NYCT operates 27 subway lines that connect 468 stations in four of the five boroughs and serves an average of 4.5 million riders daily. The Elevator and Escalator Department of NYCT is responsible for ensuring all elevators and escalators in subway stations and that other facilities are clean, safe and reliable.

As of Sept. 23, 2009, there were 182 elevators and 176 escalators at stations throughout the city.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 6:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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