I really can't say what it is about the escalators at the 59th Street station. Is it age? Constant use? Poor maintenance? Maybe, most likely, even, some combination of all three. All I can say for sure is that at least once a month, one or sometimes even both sides of the east side exit magic moving stairs are busted.
So why don't you just take the regular stairs, they ask?
There are, in fact, good old fashioned regular stairs, a case of them, wedged between the two escalators. A nice narrow case. In the morning, people use them to go up. In the evening, people use them to go down. (Not many people, under normal circumstances, mind you.) It would take a brave and very foolish soul to try to go against the flow - and would most likely result in someone getting injured.
Can't you just use the broken down escalator as a staircase? Sometimes, if they haven't opened it up like a can of sardines at the bottom to fix whatever's broken.
A busted case has great potential to lead to an interesting commute. Usually once the good MTA folk get their ducks in a row, they'll switch the working set to go up, because most of us have a much easier time of making it down a flight of stairs than up that same flight. It can take time for that to happen though, so many a morning have I had to trudge. I'm the person you don't want to be stuck behind, with my asthma and bad knee. Septuagenarians with heart conditions bustle past me, muttering beneath their breath.
And of course the up-only situation is super fun for the evening commute, when all of Midtown Manhattan wants to go down and they're being funnled into that one-at-a-time staircase. Never have you seen such a pool of people as collect just past the nice wide set of turnstyles. Always, there is someone thinking it's some kind of line waiting to get on the escalator. Always, there is someone asking, aren't there stairs? Ah, the irony.
The signs I saw coming home last night say it'll be fixed on the 22nd. In the past I've seen them post estimates of two weeks or more. Even with all this hassle though, has it ever been bad enough to make me go to the west side and get out on Lex? ...Oh my, I really wouldn't go that far...