Market Street Station Escalators Finally Get Protection From the Elements

Some problems have simple solutions.

People walk near one of the new canopy entrances over the Powell Street BART Station on Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume)

Broken escalators have plagued the BART system for decades, with disgruntled commuters frequently forced to climb flights of stairs with heavy bags or squeeze past work crews as they painstakingly dismantle and repair the fickle machinery. BART officials have long blamed weather and human waste for the breakdowns, and now, they’re finally addressing the problem at its source. On Tuesday, the first of the 24 canopies that will shield Market Street’s BART entrances was unveiled above Powell Station, at Market and Ellis streets. Designed to keep out inclement weather, the canopies also include a large gate that rolls down during off-hours to keep people from sleeping, peeing on, or otherwise taking shelter in the escalators at night time. Best of all, a small set of screens on the eastern end of the structure will display train times for both BART and Muni.

LED screens display wait times for BART and Muni Metro trains and buses at one of the new canopy entrances over the Powell Street BART Station. (Kevin N. Hume)

“This is the future of BART,” BART Board Member Bevan Dufty said at the ribbon-cutting. “This is what BART’s going to be like. You’re going to have a safe entrance, new trains, elevator attendants. … We’re going to have new electrical substations, and we’re going to bring 25 percent more new trains through the tunnel every weekday.”

Construction is already underway on another canopy at Civic Center Station, on the southwest side of Market and Seventh streets. Following its completion, both Montgomery and Embarcadero stations will receive one each, before work begins on the remaining 20 station entrances along Market.

“We have a beautiful, elegant design,” SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said. “This is what we think of as the first manifestation of the Better Market Street project. We can’t wait until every escalator opening has a canopy.”  

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