What would you do if you were riding an escalator and it suddenly switched directions? Common sense says that you would stop moving and go with the new found flow of the escalator.
But "panic mode" says that you keep trying to get up the escalator no matter what direction it was going. That's exactly what happened at a New Jersey commuter train station this morning.
The up escalator decided that it didn't like going up anymore and turned itself around. The problem is that this station, Jersey City's Exchange Place PATH station, is insanely crowded at rush hour in the morning with impatient and angry commuters that want to be anywhere but there. I know because I take the PATH train through this station every morning.
That means they don't really want to deal with issues like a broken escalator. So instead of just being reasonable and stopping to let the escalator take them back to the bottom, these people push forward. The crowd at the bottom of the escalator almost definitely pushed forward as well because they want to get out of the hell that is that train station and to the Starbucks at the top of that escalator.
If they just, y'know, stopped moving, then four people probably wouldn't have ended up injured. Here's a free life tip: Instead of being in a pushy rush every morning, just take a minute and enjoy being alive.
UPDATE: Commenter kjp216 was on the escalator at the time. It sounds like the massive commuter crowds literally became a pile at the bottom of the escalator:
As someone who was on the escalator when it happened, the reason why people kept walking up was because there was a pile of people at the bottom of the escalator. Literally, a pile. By the end of this video the pile of people had gotten up and moved away for the most part, but when it first started happening, it was pretty scary. I don't think a simple down-moving escalator would also cause people to jump off the escalator into the center median, right?
UPDATE 2: Commenter lafond was also on the escalator. He was one of the ones that jumped out of the way. I maintain that too many are still in a rush and pushy in the morning which didn't help, but it sounds like there is far more than meets the eye in this case:
I was on the escalator at the time, only about a quarter of the way up. The escalator suddenly changed directions, it did not stop first. It was moving backwards at a high rate of speed, much faster than normal operation. If you look at the video, you can tell, look at how much faster the people WALKING UP the escalator as still descending compared to the camera man on a normal descending escalator. I was actually the last person on the opposite median (0:34). I jumped on there to get out of the way so I wouldn't join the pile up at the bottom. It's amazing no one was seriously hurt.