Updated 08/11/2008 04:27 PM
MTA Unveils "Sleep Mode" Escalators
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled a new escalator technology today.
Thirty-five escalators are equipped with sensors, telling escalators to slow down to a crawl when no one is using them, and to speed up when a rider approaches.
"It slows down to about 10 to 15 percent of its normal operating speed," explained NYC Transit Superintendent Michael Marcuso.
The technology, which uses infrared motion sensors, aims to save on energy costs. The MTA estimates that it will save about $2,000 a year.
However, some riders who spoke with NY1 said they were hesitant about the success of the new escalators.
"The escalators don't always work, so I don't know what use [the new technology] will be," said one subway rider.
"It's much better than them not working at all!" said another. "If in fact it goes really slow when I'm not on it and actually works when I'm on it, so much the better."
"Since it's saving electricity, energy, I think it's a beautiful idea," said a third.
Transit officials also say the new machines will need less maintenance.
"The system that we just put in is going to put less wear and tear on the escalators, which is a crucial issue because we're going to a slower mode when you don't have that demand," said MTA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander.
Furthermore, the sensors also have a way of knowing when users try to get on the escalator in the wrong direction – setting off an alarm and bringing the escalator up to full speed.
While they're common overseas, the sleep-mode escalators are rare in the United States; the MTA had to ask state regulators for a special waiver to install them.
Four stations are taking part in the pilot program. The escalators can be found at the Herald Square station, the Roosevelt Island station, the Jamaica Van Wyck station, and the Jamaica Center Parsons Archer Station.