PATCO has been slapped with a citation by the Federal Transit Administration for on-going troubles with broken escalators and elevators at its stations.
The FTA issued the citation this week following what government officials call a routine “triennial review” of PATCO facilities and operations. Other media outlets reported that a rider’s complaint prompted the review, but the FTA says, while timely, the complaint did not elicit the probe.
During that review, FTA officials say the agency found “major deficiencies” that demonstrated “PATCO was not maintaining its elevators and escalators in good repair, not performing preventive maintenance as needed, and not accommodating passengers when elevators were out of service.”
With the citation, PATCO will now be required to provide maintenance reports every month to the FTA outlining the status of elevators and escalators, officials say. Those reports must also explain why the lifts are not working, what is being done to fix them and when they will be operational again.
PATCO will be required to provide these reports until its elevators and escalators meet “a high standard of service” for three consecutive months, the FTA says.
The FTA also asked PATCO to provide an updated plan detailing how they will better accommodate riders with disabilities when elevators are broken at a station.
PATCO, which ferries an average of 38,000 riders to one of 13 stops from Lindenwold, N.J. to Center City Philadelphia, has had many issues with its people movers over the past few months. Last August, the transit authority apologized to riders saying they "let PATCO customers down" after an escalator maintenance contract lapsed. At that time, escalators were only working 56-percent of the time, officials said.
Rider Rosemarie Altone told NBC10 in December she was forced to quit her job because of escalator and elevator issues at PATCO stations.
Tim Ireland, spokesman for the Delaware River Port Authority, which runs the high-speed line, says all of the DRPA-owned elevators are working and six of the line’s 14 escalators are currently out of service. Four are broken and two are in the process of being replaced.
The two escalators currently being replaced are at the 12th and Locust Station in Center City Philadelphia and the Woodcrest station in Cherry Hill, N.J., according to Ireland. He says a second escalator at Woodcrest has already been fixed.
“We work every day to maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Moreover, the DRPA/PATCO five-year capital plan allocates more than $20 million to take us beyond compliance,” he said. “While the act does not require us to install elevators in every PATCO station, we have made it an institutional goal to make every station completely accessible to people with mobility-related disabilities by 2017.”
Ireland says the DRPA installed elevators in the Ferry Avenue Station in Camden, N.J. and the 9th and Locust Station in Philadelphia late last year. He says the DRPA has been working with SEPTA to help fix the broken lifts and that the PATCO board has also approved maintenance company work on one of the escalators.