Express Mode in Elevators

Here's an interesting rumor. It seems that if you simultaneously press the 'door close' button and a floor button in an elevator, the elevator will go into 'express mode' and proceed directly to the selected floor without stopping at any other floors. Could be a useful trick if true, but I can't imagine that it actually works. I don't even think repeatedly hitting 'door close' would prevent an elevator from initially opening at a floor. I've written to the Otis elevator company to see what they have to say about this rumor. I'll report back if I get a response from them.


Posted on Mon Sep 27, 2004


This certainly does NOT work, at least on the elevators I've tried.

Rumor has been floating for years, and I tried it at several different locations. Still stops for the fat chicks going from 2 to 1. 😊
Posted by coit  on  Tue Sep 28, 2004  at  10:39 AM
Old-time elevators (the kind with a human operator on board) really could skip any floor where the operator didn't want to stop. It seems to me that I've seen a few pushbutton-type elevators where there was some kind of express control that would prevent stopping at intermediate floors. It was an actual button or switch, though, not a secret combination of other buttons. On the other hand, maybe I dreamed this. You obviously couldn't afford to have such a feature in most tall buildings, or the elevator would go straight from the ground floor to the top and back and hardly ever stop in between.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Sep 28, 2004  at  07:47 PM
At university I was in a 12 storey residence building. The Otis elevators could be "bumped" on the way down by briefly pressing the emergency stop button just as the car was preparing to stop for at a floor where someone had pressed the call button. The car would jerk, then continue on past the annoyed and/or puzzled caller's floor.
Posted by Steve  on  Tue Sep 28, 2004  at  09:12 PM
It definitely depends on the type of elevator, but there's an element of truth to this rumor. As a Resident Advisor in the campus residence halls, I learned some interesting things about elevators.

* First of all, on most modern elevators, there's a keyswitch to change the mode of operation from normal/automatic to manual. In manual mode, the doors will stay open until you press and hold Door Close -- on the elevators I'm familiar with, if you let go of the Door Close button at any time, they'll open back up. Then, while holding Door Close, you press the floor you'd like to go to. The elevator will not respond to people on other floors. This mode is mostly for housekeeping/janitors and building security -- they key off one elevator, and use it to move between floors without having to wait for the elevator every time. The rumor is correct that certain older elevators don't have a keyed-off mode (particularly ones in hotels and office buildings which used to have live elevator operators), and can still be made to go "express" by holding Door Close and the floor number. But they are extremely rare.

* Apparently there are only 8 elevator manufacturers in the world. There are many elevator repair companies, but from what I understand, there are only 8 that are licensed to manufacture the actual elevators. I'm not sure who's allowed to install them.

* One of the major manufacturers is Mitsubishi -- I've seen many of their elevators in downtown Chicago. I talked to a Mitsubishi-employed elevator repairman who was working on our flukey elevators, and he was extremely frustrated. You see, most new elevators are computer controlled -- in our case, it was an off-the-shelf PC running Windows NT and custom software (this was in 2001). He was frustrated because when something went wrong with the elevators' software, he had absolutely no authority to change or fix anything (maybe because of liability issues). In fact, he had to FedEx a disk with the software to Japan, where they would work on it for a week or two, and FedEx it back for him to re-install. I guess the internet never crossed their mind. If they misunderstood the problem, or a bug persisted, he had to do it all over again. Apparently that was pretty much all this guy did.
Posted by Ben Syverson  on  Fri Oct 01, 2004  at  05:29 AM
One more thing:

* The quickest way to get stuck in an elevator is to jump in one. This is because elevators are extremely sensitive to tugs on their wires -- they're designed to stop a freefall instantly. So, depending on the sensitivity of the elevator, when you jump up and down, something trips (whether it's software or mechanical), the elevator locks up where it is, and the system goes into a kind of "safe mode." In some systems, this means that you stay there until someone at the main controls resets the elevator. In other systems, it seems to happen automatically after a minute or two. I've gotten stuck in an older (1960s/70s) elevator which was kind of jerky, and I think it was because one of the jerks/jolts was pronounced enough to set off the automatic brakes. It was a small elevator with poor/no ventilation, and about 10 of us had crammed in. When it first stopped, we all laughed, but it only took about one minute for the air to get thin and hot. After another minute, everyone started to get extremely anxious, angry and frightened. A minute or two later (which was an eternity), the elevator lurched down and the doors open. I'm convinced that if it had taken another minute, people would have begun to pass out on the floor.
Posted by Ben Syverson  on  Fri Oct 01, 2004  at  05:30 AM
I worked in a university building built in the mid-1960s with 3 elevators of the same brand. Two of them allowed you to cancel any selected floor buttons by holding down the button for the floor you were on, then tapping the ones to be cancelled. If some joker pushed all the buttons and got off, you could cancel the unwanted stops. if the elevator was crowded with people talking to each other and not paying attention to you, you could hide the panel with your body, get to your destination and in the wink of an eye as you stepped out, you could quietly cancel all their destinations and send them all to the basement or wherever.
Posted by Mark Brown  on  Sat Oct 02, 2004  at  06:26 AM
What are all you healthy people doing on elevators anyway--especially you, coit--talking about fat chicks. What's your excuse?

It amazes me when people complain about how slow the elevators are when the stairs are there and so much faster. Leave the lift for those who really need it and get some exercise! :o
Posted by Dawn  on  Fri Oct 08, 2004  at  06:00 AM
Talk about exercise all you like -- when you live on the 16th floor as I did (or 90th floor as some do), the stairs are the last thing on your mind during your vertical commute. 😊
Posted by Ben Syverson  on  Fri Oct 08, 2004  at  06:05 AM
I got a response from Otis Elevator's customer service regarding my query about whether this express-mode trick really works. Here's what they said:

Thank you for your question. No the elevator will still respond to other floors selected.
customer care
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Oct 08, 2004  at  11:52 AM
While looking for something else I came across your comments. I have working installing, maintaining, repairing and selling lift over a 20 year period and i'd like to clear some points up for you.

You can not get the lift to travel in express mode unless a special facility has been fitted.

There are 100s of lift manufacturing companies in the world but only a doxen or so multi-national companies. not one of these make everything anymore. controllers, gears, hydraulics, electrical switches and buttons are sourced externally by all but may ne badged with the lift company's name.

Jumping up and down in the lift car should not cause the lift to stop (safety gear physically stopping) unless the main ropes have stretched.

Lifts with stop buttons in the cars would have manual gates. if this is the case the lift would not respond to another landing if the lift is in use. so pressing the stop to jerky the lift so it passes the floor is a complete waste of time as it would not stop anyway.

if the lift is fitted with a key switch for car preference the landings calls will not be answered. you however do not have to press the door close and then a floor button. Just press and hold the floor button until the doors are full closed and it will go to that floor.

The cancelling of calls on a 1960's lift is not possible. The control systems were not advanced enough to do this so if call were cancelled it was not as a result of your actions.

Regarding exercise i would comment that unless a lift engineer has to use a lift (lot of floors, heavy equipment transport, etc) they do not. not really for the exercise but the fear of getting stuck in the lift. Don't worry its the safest form of transport there is. The engineer is just playing the odds and thinking of the potential red face if he does get stuck.
Posted by shaun  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  04:02 AM
I know that your site is wrong because I deliver pizza to many buildings and I have been using this since 1993, there are some elevaters that disabled this feature, but most of the ones I use I can honestly say that I have never been stopped once on the way up or down, and most of these buildings have over 20 floors
Posted by Tim A  on  Tue Aug 02, 2005  at  03:53 PM
I can confirm that this does not work on Dover elevators. After a week of doing this at work I was stopped twice.
Posted by Dave  on  Fri Aug 26, 2005  at  03:07 PM
So, pizza deliver guy - if it took 2 hands to press all of the buttons simultaneously, what did you do with the pizza? I hope that you didn't put it on the floor...of an elevator? Who ever cleans in there?
Posted by Piz  on  Fri Jan 25, 2008  at  06:42 PM
this does work ive tryed it hold close button and the floor number it will take you there without delay
Posted by xzcxczcv  on  Mon May 12, 2008  at  11:22 AM
What does make you so confident, that nobody called the elevator as you were trying out this trick? Maybe just as you tried that, NOBODY was calling it... so it wouldn't be a big suprise that the elevator got you to your desired floor 😉

just a thought 😉

(yeah I know, it would be some kind of big conincidence if nobody called the elevator in a 20 or 40-stories building... but hey, isn't life full of conincidences?)
Posted by hasn  on  Thu May 22, 2008  at  03:48 PM
Hello, I live in a brand new building, there are 12 floors and 6 elevators, all Mitsubishi branded. I can confirm that neither of these can operate this setting, please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you can help me and if you have further questions.
Posted by Lewis Whitehead  on  Sun Jun 08, 2008  at  11:42 AM
Hi.. I have tried the Close door button and number trick many times now... sometimes, you have to hold the number and close button... there is a glass lift nearby to my house that I know works... ive seen people waiting and have gone straigh past!!

Also sometimes, you can feel the lift get slightly faster that normal - if youve held the buttons- and you know that the express mode has worked...

also, on some very few lifts, holding the open button and number works - at the nearest hospital to me this works, i have used it many times to stop stopping on my way to appointments!!

Beware though, the setting can be disabled, however some lift fitters leave the setting on incase they ever need to use the lift!
Posted by Steven  on  Sun Jun 08, 2008  at  04:12 PM
Haha thanks for the info. I will be trying this on every elevator I get on now!
Posted by Dad's Law  on  Sat Dec 19, 2009  at  10:17 PM
Dawn (who probably won't check this 6 years later) obviously has never been in a building with more than a few floors.

I'm on the 17th floor, you know how much it would suck to take those stairs every day 4 times a day?

Also, my building has no stairs until you get to floor 4. You must take an elevator to floor 4 then stairs are available. The emergency stairwells remain locked unless there's an emergency.
Posted by anon  on  Thu Jul 29, 2010  at  03:43 PM
Whether the trick works or not, I will never even try it as a courtesy to everyone.
Posted by Mark's PC  on  Thu Aug 19, 2010  at  09:02 AM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.