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Taken for a Ride

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The grand hall of the cavernous Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia can hold thousands of people for special events, such as Philadelphia's International Auto Show and Flower Show. For several hours each day, however, its escalators churn truss rods and gears without a single passenger. Although quiet and convenient, escalators unfortunately cost more money to install, operate and maintain than raising a child, and there are 30,000 of them in the US. In an ongoing quest to make the escalator more efficient, J Dunlop Inc has applied for a patent on a plastic escalator step in Europe. Unless thousands of people are riding these things at once, the big, bulky aluminum steps aren't necessary.

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