The opening that gives workers access to the escalator machinery had apparently been left open on April 20 from 2 a.m. until the rider fell in at 6:30 a.m. -- meaning the open hole in the station was likely there for an hour and a half after the station had opened to riders for the day.
The commuter injured her knee and cut her chin, according to Metro. She was hospitalized for two days at George Washington Hospital.
Two escalator technicians were dismissed the day after she fell, said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
Metro officials said they did not know why the hatch had been left open. The workers had been fixing the escalator that night, replacing the step rollers. But they logged off the job at 2 a.m., Metro Chief Safety Officer James Dougherty said. The station's video cameras did not show that area.
Still, Dougherty said the hatch should not have been left open. Furthermore, when such hatches are open, they are supposed to have barricades surrounding them to prevent such accidents.
The incident was the latest safety problem with the agency's 588 escalators, though most incidents have involved the actual units, not injuries from the work done to repair them.
In February, the stairs of a Foggy Bottom escalator collapsed underneath riders after a large rag got caught inside the machinery. No one appears to have been seriously injured in that incident.
In October, though, an escalator's brakes failed at L'Enfant Plaza, causing it to speed up and dump riders in a heap at the bottom. At least six people were injured as the system was flooded with riders for the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear."
Metro has been trying to fix the problems and its safety image since last year, bringing in outside consultants and reorganizing the escalator division. But the problems have continued to plague the agency.