Mockingbird Station Escalators Still Idle

DART waiting on state's lone inspector to finish investigation of incident that injured schoolchildren


The escalators at a Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail station remains closed nearly two weeks after an accident sent several people to the hospital.

Witnesses said the south escalator leading down to the rail platform at Mockingbird Station suddenly sped up on May 5.

Eighteen schoolchildren and two adults on a field trip were on the escalator at the time. Five children and the two adults were hospitalized after the mishap.

The escalators are the primary method for reaching the rail platform, which is well below street level. DART trains heading downtown from the platform enter a tunnel.

Passengers Tuesday said they have missed trains while waiting to ride the slower elevator down to the track.

Spokesman Morgan Lyons said DART is waiting for the state inspector investigating the incident to determine its cause.

"We're trying to understand exactly what happened," he said. "We're working with the state investigator on that."

The state has just one inspector who is responsible for overseeing the safety of more than 32,000 elevators and escalators in Texas.

The inspector, Lawrence Taylor, of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, only visits equipment in the event of an accident.

Private inspectors licensed by the agency and hired by property owners are expected to conduct routine annual inspections.

Reached at his Austin office Tuesday, Taylor said he visited Mockingbird Station the day after the incident. He said he still wants to stage a recreation of the accident that has not been scheduled.

Taylor said he can handle the statewide workload and denied that a lack of additional manpower is delaying the DART investigation.

"Essentially, only one person can really investigate that escalator in particular," he said. "There's a limited amount of physical space to crawl in and look around, and having additional people there would not be a good use of state resources, even if we had them."

Dallas attorney Kent Krause said he was surprised to learn the state has just one inspector when he first encountered an escalator accident case several years ago.

"If he's in Austin, that means he's got to make a special trip up here," he said. "He's got to cover the entire state of Texas, and there's probably problems going on in different places all the time."

"I am surprised -- given the severity of some of the injuries that have occurred in the past -- that there aren't more people at the state level that are involved in making sure that the regulations are fully complied with," Krause said.

Lyons, the DART spokesman, said the transit agency conducts inspections with private inspectors as required. He said DART's people inspect every escalator and elevator every day.

He also said the agency goes a step further with more detailed inspections every three years that are not required by law.

Lyons said DART is willing to wait for the state inspector to see that something like this does not happen again.

"When we bring the escalators back, we want to make sure that they have been thoroughly tested and any adjustments that need to be made have been made," he said.

Previous Coverage:

Contact Us