Some BART escalators in San Francisco are receiving extra protection from the elements, as well as the tons of human waste that gum up the moving stairs, costing millions of dollars in repairs each year.
BART broke ground on the construction of its first "escalator canopy" at the Powell Street Station near Fourth and Ellis Streets today.
"We have a lot of syringes that are tossed into escalators or people with coffee or just tossing things and so the escalators, it's not good for them," said Bevan Dufty, BART Board Director.
Years of wear and tear by human excrement, trash, as well as the rain, have all taken a toll on the escalators, leading to frequent breakdowns. "They're just unreliable," said Dufty.
On Tuesday, BART unveiled its new $66 million plan to outfit nearly two dozen escalators from the Civic Center to the Embarcadero with protective canopies. BART passengers loved the transparent canopy and its sleek modern design. Not only will the canopies add a buffer between the elements and the escalators, but officials say locked gates will keep out the homeless and drug users at night.
"With these canopies we are going to see one third less service calls, breakdowns," said Dufty.
In order to mitigate the impacts on nearby businesses during the holiday season, there will be a construction moratorium from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, with work only taking place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday night through Friday morning.
"Half of this is being paid by the city, half by BART because all of these station entrances also serve Muni you know and they sort of fit into the historic grandeur of Market Street," said Dufty.
BART will also be mounting digital displays for train arrival times under the canopies, and it will be replacing 41 downtown escalators.
Some of the project's funding came from Measure RR, a $3.5 billion dollar voter-approved bond measure in November.
Canopies at the Powell Street and Civic Center stations are expected to be completed in five months.