‘Impossible:' NYC Subway Escalator Drama Forces Riders to Climb 10 Flights of Stairs

Getting to the station's elevators, which are functioning, not only involves more walking down below, but also more steps aboveground in one of the city's hilliest neighborhoods

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A 10-story walkup in New York City? Not a chance many people would sign up for that — but it's become a reality some subway riders in Manhattan now have to face.

That's because escalator problems at the Fort Washington and 181st Street station along the A line are making riders climb up and down the equivalent of 10 flights of stairs in or to get to and from their trains.

There were three escalators at the Washington Heights station, one of the deepest subway stations across all five boroughs, but now all three are suddenly off-limits. For weeks, only one escalator was down and two remained functional, with a fix promised by the end of May.

But signs showed up during the day Monday, informing riders that the escalators will not be replaced until Feb. 2023. The escalator project is part of the MTA's ongoing efforts to be considered "reliable" for riders.

"For people with mobility issues, this will be a huge challenge," said rider Melissa Moschitto.

The MTA advised people to take the stairs, but it's far from an easy climb, and forget about trying to carry anything heavy up or down. The station is about 120 feet below street level.

"They're all connected to the same machines that run the escalator, so unfortunately the only way to properly replace the, is to do them all at once," said MTA Construction and Development President Jamie Torres-Springer.

The agency admitted that "while we could have done a better job providing more advance notice of the outage, we will work going forward to ensure customers are provided as much information as possible on the availability of three elevators at the north end of the station."

Those elevators, which are functioning, are at a far end of the platform. Getting to them not only involves more walking down below, but also more steps aboveground in one of the city's hilliest neighborhoods.

"I don't know how, but the city needs to take care of this. Impossible to be like that," said Rosario Castelanos, who lives in the neighborhood.

That "impossible" will be the reality for commuters now stuck with a longer, far tougher and steeper journey to get wherever they're going.

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