Muni freshens ’70s-era escalators at Castro, Powell stations


Work to replace outdated and worn-out escalators and elevators from the 1970s continues inside Muni Metro stations.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is working on the second phase of modernizing its escalators inside subway stations, which include replacing 17 escalators at Castro, Church, Van Ness, Civic Center and Powell stations over the next four years.

Some of the features of the new escalators include improved lighting on the steps, a sleep mode where the escalator will slow during a decrease in usage which will save energy and traps to comb out debris that can cause damage to the escalator.

In a post from the SFMTA’s “moving SF” blog, escalators at north entrance of the Castro Station and at the south side of Halladie Plaza outside of the Powell Station are almost complete. Work on both escalators should finish by mid-October. Crews will then begin work at the east end of the Powell Station and on the escalator that leads to the inbound platform in the Castro Station.

The transit agency said only one escalator per station and two escalators total will be out of service. Each escalator will take about five months to complete.

Phase one of the project included replacing five escalators at Van Ness, Church and Powell stations. The transit agency completed that portion of the project in 2014.

The transit agency is also planning to begin work on rehabilitating its subway station elevators starting in the spring of 2017.

Under the plan, the transit agency will also install new elevators at Powell and Castro stations. The SFMTA is considering putting new elevators at Van Ness and Civic Center stations as well.

There are a total of 28 escalators and 12 elevators that the SFMTA owns and operates inside the subway stations, according to the transit agency. BART and Muni share four downtown stations. Other than the Halladie Plaza escalators, which the SFMTA maintains, BART is responsible for the escalators leading to the street, while the SFMTA is responsible for escalators that lead to Muni platforms.

This week, the SFMTA released a YouTube video discussing the new escalators and elevators.

On Tuesday during the SFMTA’s Board of Directors meeting, Board Director Christina Rubke said she hopes that the transit agency continues communicating to Muni riders when elevators are out of service:

“I hope like when we take an elevator out of service, I hope our communications include like the nearest next accessible entrance is available at whatever station.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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