BRONZEVILLE — CTA riders are irked that a fairly new escalator at the 35th Street Green Line station works "sporadically" — when it works at all.
"This thing is always off," Darlene Amao said. "I complain about it, too."
Amao, who uses the stop to get to the nearby LA Fitness club, has noticed the same problem at the 35th Street Red Line station, closer to U.S. Cellular Field. She said CTA employees have told her the escalators routinely get turned off due to "overcrowding" concerns for ballgames, and "there's no way they can turn them back on."
"Due to high attendance levels and safety concerns, both the Sox-35th Red Line station and the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line station escalators are temporarily turned off during home games throughout the baseball season," CTA spokesman Jeff Tolman said Monday.
"The CTA occasionally will turn off escalators at stations near heavily attended events such as Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago and other major sporting events," he added. "This allows for safer, more efficient movement of the heavily concentrated volumes of customer traffic that occurs before and after large-scale events."
Tolman said it's different from the normal morning or evening rush at CTA stations "because the high pedestrian traffic volume is condensed to one or two stations, usually for a period of time shorter than the two- to three-hour windows of a.m. and p.m. rush."
CTA signs warn that "for customer safety ... escalators may be turned off during periods of customer crowding, such as sports events and festivals."
On Friday morning, however, the 35th Street Green Line escalator was off again, even though the most recent Sox home game prior to that day was May 24 (The Sox are in the midst of a six-game homestand that began Friday night). Asked about the escalator, CTA workers tried to start it up — unsuccessfully.
Amao complained that the CTA offers alerts for elevators out of operation, but not escalators.
"The elevators are for people in wheelchairs," she said. "What about those, like me, who have arthritis in our knees and stuff, and I've gotta walk up?"
"I'm disabled," added Wardell Gates, a Bronzeville resident. "I don't want to be doing that."
I assume, if there is an escalator, the CTA is regularly going to service it," said Jill Willis, a Bronzeville resident. "Why is it constantly down?"
Established in 1892 on one of the city's earliest public-transportation rail lines, the 35th-IIT-Bronzeville CTA station got its latest complete overhaul in 1996 with the Green Line renovation.
Yet, according to riders, the escalator was having problems only weeks after being worked on last October.
Tolman said the escalator was installed in 1998 and "reconditioned" in October. He insisted, "It is fully operational besides those periods when it is turned off for White Sox home games."
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