MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami-Dade Metrorail moves hundreds of thousands of people every week but some of those riders are running into problems when they want to take the escalator or elevator due to a maintenance mess.
Charles Portland is one of the riders who has to take the stairs to hop on the Metromover in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood.
“Three flights of stairs is a good thing for me. Even though I wouldn’t have done it on my own. But today, I’m going to do the three flights of stairs,” Portland said.
He could not take the escalator because it was out of service. Portland is not alone running into maintenance problems.
“Sometimes the elevators are broken and it’s very dangerous, especially for people older than me and with this (rolling suitcase), it’s complicated,” Mercedes Minota said.
Minota depends on the Metrorail to go between Coral Gables and Downtown Miami.
“The government is supposed to put more money for the transportation,” Minota said.
The county has more than $5 million in the budget for elevator and escalator repairs at its facilities.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez says money is not the problem. Instead, he says elevator and escalator companies have narrowed down who can make repairs on the aging system.
“The elevator companies have changed their business model. Right now, we used to be able to hire different elevator repair companies to repair our elevators,” the mayor said.
The mayor says this road bump is why on weekdays the near 60,000 Metrorail riders and near 30,000 Metromover riders may see out-of-service signs posted longer than expected.
“Now elevator companies are saying only these folks can repair our elevators and they have to have our parts,” the mayor said.
In a memo to commissioners in April, the mayor’s office listed the number of hours each unit was out of service in 2018.
For the roughly 150 elevators and escalators, they spent a combined 36,000 hours not working. That amounts to 1,500 days.
Even though the numbers may be high, the mayor says it is not as bad as it seems.
“We still have 96% of the time, the elevators and escalators are working. But, again, if you hit that 4%, it’s a problem for you,” the mayor said.
Last year, for Dadeland South, one of Metrorail’s busiest stops, the elevator was not working for close to five days and the escalator was out of service for more than two weeks.
Brickell Metromover Station, also one of the top three busiest stops for the mover, saw both elevators and escalators out of service for less than a week.
The 5th Street station and 1st Street Stations were the two spots with the most problematic elevators and escalators, respectively.
To avoid issues like a slow-fix and long wait-times for parts County Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who is a regular rider, says leaders have a plan so that problems won’t continue decades from now.
“The county is now embarking on a new procurement process where we will be procuring all the services to upgrade all the elevators and all of the escalators on the Metromover so we are not dealing with replacing components that are thirty years old,” Higgins said.
The county provides a shuttle to another station with a working elevator.
Click here to see a list of elevators and escalators that are out of service.