According to the National Elevator Industry, Inc., over 105 billion passengers ride escalators each year in the United States. The key to a smooth operation and transportation of large numbers of people is efficient planning, installation and quality maintenance. Analyzing and understanding your building’s traffic pattern is important when developing your maintenance plan. This ensures safety and also keeps your passengers moving efficiently, even during peak hours.

Building Types 

Each and every building is different. That’s why it’s important to understand your building type and what kind of service your escalators need. The vertical transportation requirements and service solutions are unique to your building and the maintenance performed on the equipment should reflect that. Here are some common building types and things that should be considered for each: 


  • Aesthetics are important – visual design and lighting 
  • Should have continuous operation to encourage shoppers to explore other floors 
  • Low speed to keep shoppers in the building 


  • Continuous operation is important to keep heavy traffic moving 
  • High speed 

Office or Medical Building

  • Visual design is important, as it helps reflect luxury level of the building 
  • Low to medium speed. Medical buildings should keep speed low for patient comfort but office buildings might need to have a faster speed, especially during morning and lunch rushes 

Sustainable Service  

If sustainability is important to you, there are equipment options you can consider to help reduce your building’s impact on the environment. Using less oil to lubricate your conveying system, installing LED lights and operating in “sleep mode,” which slows the escalator speed when there is no passenger traffic, are just a few ways you and your contractor can reduce energy consumption. 

Did You Know?

Most people assume that walking up an escalator helps you reach your destination faster but research shows that standing side-by-side is actually quicker than rushing past each other. 

According to a study, researchers found that walking up an escalator took 26 seconds compared with standing, which took 40 seconds. However, the “time in system” — or how long it took to stand in line to reach an escalator then ride it — dropped sharply when everyone stood.

In Case of Emergency

Each escalator has a stop button that’s used to stop the escalator or moving walkway in case of an emergency. These red buttons are located at both the top and bottom landings of each escalator to prevent further damage or injury.  

Escalator Etiquette 

The misuse of escalators can lead to many accidents and injuries and is actually to blame for most escalator failures. Passengers should never walk or run the opposite direction of operation, sit on steps, ride without shoes on, drag feet along the edge, or use carts or strollers on escalators. The steps are sharp and higher than stair steps, the handrails are shorter than stair handrails, and the unit needs minimum gaps for operation. 

While elevators and escalators are very safe when routinely inspected and maintained, problems and injuries can arise. That is why it is crucial for building owners to adhere to jurisdictional guidelines, consult with and have a thorough inspector, and finally have a plan in place if something does go wrong.