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Serious Gaps in MTA’s Maintenance of Elevators and Escalators

May 10, 2017 
By Stephanie West

New York, NY - New Yorkers frequently see breakdowns of the MTA’s elevators and escalators, and a new report released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer explains why.

The audit found the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) did not perform all scheduled preventive maintenance on nearly 80 percent of sampled escalators and elevators, and that one-third of the MTA’s scheduled preventive maintenance assignments in the sample were completed late – if at all.  In addition, the MTA does not systematically track whether and how quickly all of the defects found in its elevators and escalators are corrected.  The MTA’s failure to adhere to its own maintenance schedule and ensure that all defects are promptly corrected can pose safety risks for straphangers and threaten accessibility in subway stations.

“New Yorkers constantly see and experience broken elevators and escalators – and this audit shows us why it’s happening,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.  “Preventive maintenance is late or not happening at all, and when defects are identified, work orders aren’t always created. It’s not rocket science – it’s common-sense. If we aren’t proactively servicing these machines, and if we aren’t repairing them when we find problems, they’re going to break down. When seniors and people with disabilities can’t get to where they need to go because of a broken elevator or escalator, government is failing them.  This audit isn’t just about basic maintenance. It should be a reminder that behind every broken machine, behind every motionless escalator or elevator, there are people who can’t travel. There are New Yorkers who can’t make it to a job interview or doctor’s appointment,” continued Stringer. ”It’s unfair – and it’s gone on for far too long. It must get fixed.”

Even though proactive, preventive maintenance is critical to ensuring that elevators and escalators function properly, the Comptroller’s audit shows that preventive maintenance isn’t being completed on time. In many cases, work orders were never created, even after new defects were found during preventive maintenance or inspections. In addition, NYCT does not track when or even whether all defects have been corrected.  NYCT’s database does not have a dedicated data field in which specific defects that need to be corrected can be listed. As a result of these breakdowns in process, NYCT’s ability to ensure that its 407 elevators and escalators are operating in good condition is hindered.

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