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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

T is for tragedy

The tragic crash on the MBTA Green Line last night that resulted in the death of a trolley car operator will properly be reviewed by federal investigators. But what will this mean to passengers who must now wait more than a year for the cause -- and wonder?

This is the second major incident on the Green Line in the month of May alone. A little more than two weeks ago, a car jumped the tracks on the turn at Commonwealth Avenue and Chestnut Hill Avenue, struck a power pole and caught fire.

The last train of the night incident didn't draw near the attention as the rush-hour crash involving a rear-end collision.

It didn't have the (dis)advantage) of wall-to-wall coverage on Boston television stations, complete with dueling helicopters and uninformed speculation, like the Channel 4 anchor who declared it was a head-on crash when the pictures and logic said otherwise.

That was a problem apparently shared across the board and points out what happens when the mindless competition for viewers butts up against the newsgathering process -- a very messy thing that once had safety valves that prevented impressions and mistakes from being reported as fact.

But even an untrained observer can see one immediate similarity between the two Green Line accidents -- speed.

The Boston College line car no doubt jumped the rails because it took the corner too fast, a common experience to any rider on that line.

The Riverside accident at Woodland Station had to involve speed because of the extent of the damage and the fact cars jumped the tracks. Whether it was a faulty signal or operator error will be determined by the National Transportation Safety Board.

But when you throw in a track fire at Park Street that fouled up the Tuesday rush hour, it inevitably raises serious question about the safety of riding buses, subway and trolley lines.

And with gas at $4 a gallon and rising, it's incumbent upon the MBTA to get a handle -- right now -- on a May record that would rightly leave many people wondering just how safe it is to commute.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the MBTA automate the trains and get rid of all this human error that causes fatalities of its drivers and injuries to passengers?

May 29, 2008 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the MBTA automate the trains and get rid of all this human error that causes fatalities of its drivers and injuries to passengers?

Not really sure how you would automate a trolley system where trains interact with car traffic in many places.

On the other lines, maybe... but if the equipment is so old that fires on the Red Line are commonplace, it seems like it'd be a pricey endeavor.

May 29, 2008 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cell phone distraction? Well, I guess one could say she had it coming...

May 29, 2008 4:32 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Why doesn't the MBTA automate the trains and get rid of all this human error that causes fatalities of its drivers and injuries to passengers?

May 29, 2008 11:06 AM

Yeah good luck getting that by the Boston Carmen's Union.

May 31, 2008 2:59 PM  

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