Often in larger scale commercial developments, vertical circulation is handled by escalators in addition to elevators in order to move large volumes of people from one space to another. Escalators are complex truss structures with a remarkable mechanism of chained treads that move in sync with railings in order to safely convey people.
According to RSMeans’ Building Construction Cost Data, 2011, the in place cost for an escalator can range from $132,000 to over $210,000 depending on floor to floor height, width and finishes. Given that a 2-stop hydraulic elevator costs anywhere from $65,000 to $90,000 installed (also depending on floor to floor height, width and finishes), an escalator can be figured to be roughly double the cost of an elevator. Escalators will not provide accessibility between floors, however and so an elevator will still be required regardless.