While it's part of Bay Area gospel and a piece of established etiquette that longtime residents try to drill into the minds of all newcomers to stick to the right side of a BART escalator if one wants to stand still, allowing those in a hurry or seeking some exercise to pass on the left, BART has now officially stated that they would prefer that no one did this. An innocent tweet about the practice by newly elected BART Board member Bevan Dufty led to BART's surprising response, which they say has to do with "uneven wear" on the escalator's gears, which can lead to more breakdowns and need for repair.
Since a bidding process is about to launch for new escalators, a friend of Dufty's, former Jane Kim campaign manager Christopher Vasquez, tweeted him an image of an escalator from another city with labels on the steps dictating this practice, suggesting that any new BART escalators should have this, setting off the exchange.
@BevanDufty Dont laugh, but we can't do this cuz it would cause more breakdowns. uneven wear if walk on one side but stand on other.— SFBART (@SFBART) January 13, 2017
The Examiner picked up the story from there, but how is this good policy, on BART's end? It may be factually correct, but is BART saying they want to undue decades of etiquette around this by ignoring the fact that it happens and not indicating it on the escalator itself?
Should Bay Area commuters be expected to stand idly on the escalators as they hear their train approaching just to save BART some money on repairs and make sure the escalators don't have "uneven wear"?
This is insane and will never happen.
Also, we all know that BART escalators probably have a bigger problem with poop and urine clogging and degrading their inner workings.
The standing/passing rule is something that's been done in many cities worldwide, and there's actually been a recent study that suggests that if everyone stood and no one passed, some busy escalators could accommodate more people per minute. That has prompted Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway to launch a campaign to get commuters to do this, and London's Metro has studied the practice, showing that certain escalators could accommodate 30 percent more people if everyone stood two by two although this seemed to apply only to up escalators over a certain height, otherwise there was no difference.
BART's board will soon be voting on a new contract for escalator replacement and repair, which also includes the construction of two rain canopies over downtown SF escalators. This may be part of a $3 million escalator repair fund the board voted on last spring, though it may be separate.