General Manager Richard Sarles announced the replacement of three entrance escalators on Wednesday while speaking to the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce.
Metro then put out a press release touting the news. It added a headline screaming from the home page of its website: "BETHESDA STATION ESCALATORS TO BE REPLACED SARLES ANNOUNCES."
But Red Line riders shouldn't put away their hiking shoes yet, because the work isn't slated to begin until early 2014 and such projects take time. A similar project currently under way at Foggy Bottom is expected to take nearly a year, creating a bottleneck in the meantime. So Bethesda riders may have to wait until 2015 for a seamless entry and exit.
The project is so far away, Metro doesn't have a contract, so it can't say how much the project will cost.
"It will be a major project, as all full replacements are, so there needs to be time for engineering and design," Metro spokesman Dan Stessel explained in an email. He said Sarles has asked his staff to see if they can accelerate the project.
Riders often complain about the station's escalators. The moving staircases date to 1984, when the station opened, but were modernized in 2002, according to the agency. Still, they have frequent problems.
And when the escalators are out, riders flood the elevator, which has problems of its own.
On a recent June morning -- after the bulk of the morning rush -- the line for the elevator was more than 20 deep. And the elevator itself was being repaired, so a Metro worker had to go up and down with it to make sure it worked.
Metro has 588 escalators throughout its rail system but has been extensively criticized for problems that leave riders forced to hike up and down them. Within the last year, the transit agency has had outside consultants evaluate the problems and has reorganized the leadership of the division.
The agency typically does not replace escalators but repairs them or rebuilds them. The Foggy Bottom replacement unveiled earlier this month, the first of three escalators to be replaced at that Orange/Blue lines station, was the first to be replaced with entirely new equipment in more than a decade.