15 October 2007

Escalator Ladies

Those people are the ones that can be seen on the down-end of any single escalator in the metro system. We had a lot of quasi-technical discussions about the necessity of a manual operator sitting idle for most of the time and the other thing that makes those people (most of whom are old ladies) interesting is that they constantly yell at the passengers through the soviet built-in speaker system to "kindly" remind (or suggest) the usage of the left hand side for walking, not standing.

They own the place from their little metal booths...

Actually, they make up of a critical element of the escalator system (some of which are told to be the longest in the world) because they are entitled to stop the routine if any accident occurs (especially because of the moscovite women's frequent usage of high and thin heels even in blizzards) and changing the direction of the escalator to ease the bottlenecks caused by the heap of passengers in one particular direction (especially during peak hours).

The axis of evil...or the Uniformed Ladies in Metro. Fear them!

I am not sure but I also think that I have seen some signs (some handwritten) on their booths' doors, saying "The operator does not have to answer to your questions". Well, it is really true, given their soviet faces with an impression of "Actually I am a very important contributor to the international communist cause". If you dare to ask (not in English of course), a minority of them would wake up from their open-eye daydream or raise their gaze from the book that they are reading.

"Comrades, who goes down must go up! Hurry to the factories, offices...The Motherland needs your contribution "

So here are some boring but interesting information about the escalators in Moscow Metro: if they would be added together, that would be a 64 kilometres of a rather long escalator (that would take an angry post-soviet citizen easily to his dacha, while he can enjoy pickles and votka). The longest escalator is in Park Pobedy (Victory park) Station (which is logically the deepest station of 84 meters deep) and it is 126 meters long. Although it is really that long, it is operating faster than an average escalator so it sometimes feels longer in other deep-dug stations, like Novosolobodskaya)

The legendary four-calator in Komsomolskaya. It is so huge that it can carry half of the Red Army Infantry upstairs in minutes.

Another question comes to the mind of every sick-minded Turkish passenger that has first used the Metro. (Some of us,Turkish, have reverse-engineered minds so that we keep on thinking about how a machine can break down but not how it works actually). A lot of my friends have theorised that if any accident occured, a lot of people would die or get injured in the escalators, in a very vivid way. Actually, there was an accident back in 1982 in Aviamotornaya Station (on yellow line) when a faulty step derailed the escalator and the passangers fell to the ground with gaining a deadly momentum, crushing 8 people (unlucky to be on the back) to death and like all soviet technological improvements, emergency brakes for escalators were added after some soviet citizens died.

Now they have added advertisements to the escalators. Passengers can enjoy their participation in the fruits of colourful capitalist profit-maximization

Now it is said to be perfectly safe, unless you check your back regularly (after 8pm) for any cannonball-wannabe drunks who sometimes miss the steps and end up in a bloodbath on the ground after a flight down the escalator. I was hit twice like this, first by some drunk teen-girl group who chose the fastest way down and the second by a middle aged bum (a member of a Moscow sub-nation that survive in the sub-tropical atmosphere of the koltso (brown) line and give the Metro its unique scent with %3 alcohol). I made a Jackie Chan movement to let him fall by me three flooors downslope but he had enough dexterity to stalk on me for the next three stations.

A statue in the Ploschad Revolutsii (Revolution Square) Station, saying "I was hit by a comrade drunk"

Here is a video of an escalator ride in Moscow Metro

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