Disappointingly, Luddites often rule the day. People want to protect their pocketbooks and themselves, so they reject any technology that is a perceived threat, even if not a true threat. This is despite technology being available that can make life better for almost all people in the community and even for themselves. That is exactly where Boston is in the world of elevators, and it is inconveniencing and even possibly hurting some of its citizens. In a recent boston.com article, it detailed the compelling story of Erin Murphy. Recently she had to fight torrential rain and exhaustion in her wheelchair because the elevator on the platform she needed to use for public transportation was closed. Not only that, the elevator in question has been shutdown since April….of 2018! And even more astounding, the new elevator will not be completed until 2020, and that date is a guesstimate!
The alternatives for Murphy seem limited and all of them would cost her more time, money and worry about getting to where she needs to be on time. But, the alternatives for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) are not as limited because with technology, such as modular construction, there is no reason why replacing an old elevator should take longer than a few weeks, not years.
As a matter of fact, a Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME) was installed in a Boston school just a few years ago in less than eight weeks from the time of the order. The project literally went from drawings to actually being approved for use that quickly. PME prides itself on faster, safer and higher quality. So when we read about a person being so burdened by lack of access, it kind of makes our blood boil. There is no reason in this day and age for people to be so inconvenienced for so long.
But currently in the Bay State, there is active opposition to a different and better way to vertically move people from one floor to another. Despite the fact that modular would free up more time for elevator mechanics to make sure that current elevators are up and running, they still are vehemently opposed to a better way.
Utilizing modular elevators would allow for faster installation and set up of commercial-quality elevators in retrofit or new construction applications. They can even come with modular machine rooms to make the startup even faster. Their unfounded fear is that better technology will keep people from working as modular elevators go in so much faster and easier than stick-built. But, in actuality, the improved technology would free up more man-hours for service and upkeep, something that is sorely needed in Boston. Just check out this report from CBS Boston about the current state of the elevator industry that sports a backlog of 4,500 elevators operating without a valid license. Apparently, the state can’t keep up and neither can those tasked with fixing what the inspectors find.
Think about that next time you step into an elevator in Boston.
This backlog is a long-standing problem. For years, the state has been having trouble keeping up and it is no wonder with so many mechanics installing new elevators, as this leads to less time maintaining existing ones. It is shocking that only a handful of people opposing a faster installing elevator system can control the mobility and safety of everyone in the state, especially considering they could help correct the problem. Unfortunately, they refuse to even consider different alternatives as an option.
So who are they protecting by their backward views? Really, the answer is no one. Right now and in the foreseeable future, everyone the elevator business is extremely busy and business is booming. Also, the modular alternative such as Phoenix Modular Elevator is safer for the very people that those opposing them intend to help, elevator mechanics.
Modular elevators are built in a factory setting and use machinery to do all of the traditional heavy lifting. No more backbreaking rails to lug, motors to hoist or cabs to build in extremely cramped quarters. That means elevator mechanics are injured less and can then do the tasks beyond the grunt work to keep people safe. But, those opposed to modular elevators don’t seem to care about the working conditions of elevator mechanics that get strained backs, pulled muscles or worse. There are also no open hoistway hatches or doors for mechanics or other construction workers to fall through. Modular makes the entire jobsite safer and just makes sense.
Lastly, Massachusetts is the only state that has outright rejected this technology. Early on, they were accepting and we have several units already installed in the state, but the Luddites prevailed, at least for the time being. They are unlike the rest of the United States and Canada where you can find modular elevators from New York City to Los Angeles, British Columbia to Florida. We have great union and non-union elevator contractors that install our modular elevators everyday and we are looking to add more…even in Boston.