BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Changes may be on the way for an escalator that is tying up travel in the Metro rail's busiest subway station.
The escalator at the University Station has been out for four months now and riders are beyond fed up with the inconvenience. The frustration has been noted by the NFTA board, which is expected to get the wheels rolling toward a solution this week.
The escalator is one of the two in the station. The working escalator takes passengers up from the train platform, but the long, steep stairs going down can be daunting. And if you're in a hurry, having to take the stairs over an escalator could make the difference between catching the next train, or missing it.
But NFTA spokesman Doug Hartmayer says, the fix could be in soon. The board of commissioners has narrowed the list of prospective contractors that can fix the escalator down to two.
"And we are trying to work in a very expedited way to move this process along," he said.
So why is it taking so long to fix the escalator? Hartmayer broke it down: First, the NFTA had to figure out what was causing the malfunction, which meant dismantling the machinery. Second, they had to shift funds, provided by the federal government, from one pot to another. Lastly, the NFTA then solicited three emergency bids, and the lowest bid for $332,000 could be awarded this week.
Officials estimate rebuilding the escalator, rather than repairing it, could take four months.
Hartmayer said, "The best way to go, the most cost effective way to go, was to rebuild this 28-year-old escalator to give it some new life. The last time any moving parts had been repaired was about 15 years ago."
So what is the timetable for fixing the broken escalator? NFTA officials met Monday to award the contract for repairing the machinery, but a dispute among board members delayed that decision. The board is holding a special meeting Friday morning to vote again.
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