SAN FRANCISCO — Human excrement is gumming up the wheels and gears of some escalators servicing Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/MHR6DK) that BART station stairwells have become a common place for homeless people to sleep overnight or relieve themselves.

When crews pulled out a broken escalator at the Civic Center station last month, they found such a high volume of feces they called a hazardous materials team.

BART officials recently spoke with San Francisco authorities about how to clean up the 16th Street plaza, and spokesman Jim Allison says that conversation also could encompass the downtown stairwells.

In addition to creating unpleasant smells, officials say waste can close escalators for extended repairs and increase station cleaning costs. There are many other reasons why escalators break down.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com