Dear Metro, Where Are Our Stationary Escalators?

Dear Metro,

I use your trains every day to travel between home and work. If you are late, I am late. If you are early, I am also late. I am, for better or worse, dependent on you. You are an integral part of my life, and the lives of so many other people in this city.

Why then, do you insist on treating me like I don’t exist?

At every train station in the city loop there are escalators that go up, and escalators that go down. I shouldn't need to state the obvious, but perhaps I do. It’s the 21st Century. Not everyone wants to go up or down. Some of us want to be stationary. Maybe we haven't yet decided whether we want to go up or down, or maybe we just enjoy the lack of vertical displacement. It's really none of your business.

Sure, some platforms at some stations offer a staircase that, if you’re lucky, will allow you a brief period of stationary respite. But this is problematic on so many levels. In peak periods, these staircases are flooded with passengers both ascending and descending, violating the very purpose of the immobile step construction. And in quieter times, the provision of a staircase immediately signifies us as different. Don’t you get it? We want escalators just like everyone else. We just don't want to go up or down.

I will admit, there have been occasions where a stationary escalator has been provided. But would it be too cynical to suggest that these occasions were attributable to mechanical faults, and not to considerations of respect and understanding? By associating stationary escalators with mechanical failure, a narrative is constructed whereby people like me are viewed as “broken”. Am I broken, or am I just different?

Even your corporate slogan is a personal attack against me: “Metro: Moving You Around Melbourne”. Why the insistence on motion? Especially when the research has conclusively demonstrated the many benefits (both physiological and economical) of standing still.

Is it really too much to ask that every station in the city loop, and every suburban station with or without escalators, be modified to suit my idiosyncrasies? Need I remind you of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities?

When all is said and done, shouldn’t human decency trump financial quibbles and engineering obstacles? I think it should.

Change is coming, Metro. Don’t get caught on the wrong side of history’s tracks.