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Rising 106 feet, the Western Hemisphere’s second-longest escalator malfunctioned this morning, causing trains on Metro’s Red Line to bypass the Bethesda station beginning around 9:20 a.m.

The escalator came back into service around 11:40 a.m., as did the Bethesda station. Metro had been providing shuttles to and from the Medical Center station, which is the immediate next stop north of Bethesda.

Sherri Ly, a Metro spokesperson, said repairmen from the escalator’s manufacturer, KONE, arrived on scene around 11 a.m. One of the steps on today’s malfunctioning escalator needed an adjustment, she said. Ly added that having Red Line trains bypass the Bethesda station is “standard procedure” when one of its three escalators malfunctions, given the escalators’ length and the resulting crowds.

The service outage comes one week after the escalator went into service, and is the fourth reported outage in those seven days. The escalator was replaced as part of an approximately $8.4 million project to replace the Bethesda station’s three escalators.


On Aug. 2, Metro released a video and issued a press release touting the reopening of the escalator, with Metro Interim General Manager and CEO Jack Requa calling it a “significant improvement for our customers at Bethesda Station.”

“This first new entrance escalator will provide more reliable service for the thousands of passengers who travel through the station each day,” he said in the release. 

The Red Line’s Wheaton station in Silver Spring is the Western Hemisphere’s longest escalator

Photo by Darrow Montgomery