Towers elevators: Down, but not out

Story by Amelia Kimball, Staff Writer

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Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the Towers elevators are constantly in motion, but when students bounce in the elevators or abuse them in some way, they cease to function.
Lynn Peterson, assistant director for operations in Facilities Management, said there are 42 elevators on campus, but the ones in Towers are the most popular.

“The Towers’ elevators are the most used and the most abused,” he said.
All the campus elevators are overseen by the state for safety reasons, and the University is required to have all elevators maintained and inspected, Peterson said. Around July of every year, they are thoroughly inspected from the top down, and someone from the state ensures all the elevators are tested and correctly functioning.
If the elevators are functioning as normal, a permission to operate permit is issued, Peterson said.
“The tests are very detailed,” Peterson said. A permit is not issued until a spotted problem is resolved.
Recently, an elevator in Towers North had a burnt out motor. Peterson said this took about three weeks to replace. Hundreds of parts make the elevator work, and when the elevator moves up and down to different floors, clicks can be heard as all the parts do their job. The elevator is able to assess weight, speed, and where it stops, Peterson said.

When students jump in the elevator, “it shuts down because it knows it’s going too fast,” Peterson said.
Hanna Johnson, a freshman from Towers North, said she’s never seen people jumping in the elevators, but she can hear them. “One of the elevators would get stuck, and then you’d hear the bell,” Johnson said.
Peterson said she thinks the Towers’ elevators are the most used because while other elevators shut down for the night, those do not. Students constantly rely on the elevators from early in the morning till late at night.
When one elevator in Towers fails, Peterson said many students are affected as there are
longer waits.
When Johnson moved into Towers, she said there were many problems. Only one elevator was working that day, so there was a lot of commotion. “I never take the elevators down because they’re too slow,” Johnson said.
Many of the costs to fix the elevators are a part of the maintenance contract, but not all are. Vandalism issues are not covered, Peterson said.
“It costs about $4,650 per month just for the maintenance contract with normal wear and tear,” Peterson said.
When vandalism is a factor, the costs could reach anywhere from 70 to thousands of dollars, Peterson said.
Peterson said the campus has a wonderful elevator technician who not only works on UW-Eau Claire elevators, but also those from UW-La Crosse and other locations.

Every single elevator is looked at monthly, and the technician is very good at taking care of the elevator needs at Eau Claire, Peterson said.

For example, he said the elevators in McIntyre were recently modernized, costing $500,000.

“The elevators are very expensive to maintain and upgrade,” Peterson said.

She said it is important people take care not to abuse the elevators.
Johnson said she has noticed people don’t always follow elevator etiquette. She said there are certain rules as to when the elevator should and shouldn’t be used, but these are not often followed.
Peterson said elevators will go through normal wear and tear, but excess problems and costs are created when people are careless.
“There shouldn’t be a problem,” Peterson said. “Problems come when there is abuse.”