The Escalator Enterprise
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Have malfunctioning escalators ever ruined your day? Over the years, escalators, both broken and functioning, have become a cultural norm at Stuyvesant. And despite the apparatuses breaking down every day, not to mention the harrowing experiences Stuyvesant students have while riding the escalators, we continue to rely on them.
Sophomore Petra Dijur has had one such experience. She describes the shock of seeing a broken escalator get fixed. “The worst thing I’ve ever seen on the escalator was one [maintenance worker] knee-deep in the guts of it,” she said. Sophomore Huilin Tang also had a shocking experience on an escalator. “I was going to the ninth floor and somebody bumped me off the escalator […] He used his school bag and just like basically pushed me off,” Tang explained. “It [was] kind of scary.” Sophomore Jayne Wong shares Tang’s concern about the safety of the escalators. “Something especially memorable while going down on the escalator is when the escalators starts randomly shaking when you’re standing on it,” Wong recalled. In addition to the shaking, Wong also notices the noises the escalators make. “I don’t know why but the two to four escalator, when you get to the top like on the fourth floor, makes this loud banging noise. It sounds especially unsafe,” she said.
In comparison, freshman Abedur Rahman feels no concern surrounding the safety of the escalators. “I used to be scared my foot would get stuck or I'd fall off,” he said in an e-mail interview, subsequently noting that he no longer holds this fear. Similarly, senior Jeremy Wong expressed that he has no current concerns in an e-mail interview: “I don't fear anything about these escalators. They're completely new, and I trust them to not collapse on me.” However, Jeremy Wong also recalled the escalators’ condition before quarantine. “I remember some of the old escalators being a little unsteady––I remember being able to shift around a whole step––and many of them were worn-out and often broke down,” he said.
Not only are the escalators scary at times, but they also annoy many students during their day-to-day travels. Students get irritated when finding broken escalators where they least expect it, especially when they’re running late. Sophomore Hannah Kim, for example, discussed the annoyance of broken escalators in an e-mail interview. “[Malfunctioning escalators] annoy me very much. Especially right after I have gym. I have to get to my chemistry class [...] and the idea of sprinting up the escalator to get in time for chem is just too stressful,” she said. Jayne Wong also relates to the stress of running up multiple floors just to get to her next class. “Honestly, it’s not that bad when the escalators work, but if one of them breaks down it’s absolutely horrible walking up the stairs. Imagine walking up like all those stairs just to get to your next class and not to mention that I’ll be late. Terrible,” she said.
Though the escalators present many issues, students also agree that they are a necessity in a school like Stuyvesant. “In a large school like Stuyvesant, who would want to walk up nine flights of stairs to get to your next class?” Jayne Wong said, “It just saves you energy because I’m pretty sure Stuyvesant students are all tired.” Dijur also preferred taking the escalators over the stairs. “[I take] escalators because I don’t have to do as much exercise,” he explained. Likewise, Jeremy Wong agrees that the escalators were beneficial to Stuyvesant. “After the escalator accident in my freshman year, the escalators got shut down for inspection, and to compensate, we were let out at the warning bell to get to our next class. That's how bad the crowding was,” he said. “The escalators are also where I see many of my friends as I go up or down during passing periods.”
Other students appreciate the escalators' help in getting them to class on time, especially with the short five-minute-long passing time. “Stuyvesant has escalators because there is no way that we can get to some classes [in five minutes] without using them,” Kim said. “Some teachers especially are not quite generous with a few seconds after the bell rings, so escalators are needed for the students’ mental health also.”
Students can’t help but pick favorites, and Stuyvesant certainly has opinions on the set of seven escalators scattered across the school. Dijur, for one, loves the ride from the seven-to-nine. “It has really high ceilings and a little more space at the front and the end which looks more pleasant. [...] All the glass is really nice and bright.” Jayne Wong shared a similar sentiment: “My favorite escalator would be the seven-to-nine––you just stare out those windows and there’s plenty of light there also like the ceiling makes it even better.” However, Jeremy Wong preferred the three to five escalator. “I would say the three-to-five and five-to-three because it served as a ‘replacement’ for the broken two-to-four and four-to-two escalators if we were on our way to exit the building and go home,” he said. “These escalators also directly lead up to where the cafe's located, so if I wanted to grab a quick breakfast or lunch, I would just take the three-to-five up.”
But these benefits don’t mean the escalators can’t be improved. Students came up with some hypothetical ideas that could enhance the escalators. Tang suggested that the escalators could be made wider to minimize crowding. “If I could, I would definitely make it wider and a little faster,” she said. Jayne Wong targeted the cleanliness of the escalators: “Some of [the steps] are blackened. It looks like something bad happened there, like something got set on fire or something. It just looks especially unsafe.” Kim’s idea was along the same lines as Jayne Wong’s, focusing on the trash that can be found throughout the escalators. “Maybe not littering is what students can do,” she said. Jeremy Wong suggested another way that students can help. “I instead think that we could improve the situation by being more mindful of what we do on these escalators that would cause them to break down,” he said. However, the biggest improvement would be to make sure that the escalators work better and run smoothly. “The escalators are essential to my survival––please fix them,” Jayne Wong stated. Though these enhancements would be much appreciated, they would also be extremely expensive and time-consuming. “There's not much to do; it's a statewide government problem that takes a long process to change,” Rahman said. For these students, escalator improvements are mostly wishful thinking.
It is also important to remember that improvements are happening around the clock. Escalators at Stuyvesant have come a long way these past few years. “The new escalators are a huge improvement since they don't break down as often. From what I've noticed, they're also slightly faster than the old escalators, too,” Jeremy Wong said. Though they still break down from time to time, the escalators benefit the students overall. After all, running up flights of stairs is not a pleasant way to start the day.