A certain version of the 3rd option is correct.
Let's analyze the case for a person that just stands on a step of the escalator.
The person comes walking at a certain speed, presummably the same as the horizontal speed of the escalator's speed, so when the step into the platform is taken no acceleration occurs. But shortly after, the platform changes direction and starts going upwards. In this moment vercical acceleration is imparted to the person's body. Once the platform is moving at full escalator angle, both horizontal and vertical speed are constant, thus there is no acceleration in any axis.
The short period of vertical acceleration is usually not felt by the person because knees are amost locked straight so the force is excerted mostly trhough the bones, however, if you step on the escalator with knees slightly bent, you'd experiment (feel, perceive) the force needed to remain (half) standed.
Now, since after the initial direction change there is no more acceleration from the escalator, if the person takes their own steps forward/upward then with each step they would be accelerating the body up and forward. This acceleration results obviously in higher speed.
So, the escalator makes it easier to get up to the next deck, but each individual step would take the same energy from the body of the person performing the experiment than it would take if the escalator was stopped.
There are a few things to consider:
The phicological effect of perceiving a higher speed, not correlating to the perceived effort.
The fact that you walk less steps to get to the upper deck if the escalator is functioning (upwards).
Finally, consider what happens if besides the escalator there are regular stairs. If you try to walk up the stairs at the same speed (relative to the building) than a person walking up the working escalator, you'd find how you need more effort to accomplish the task in the same time.