On the Red Line, them's the brakes

Shortly after 9 a.m., inbound Red Line service was halted so that EMTs could take a sick passenger off a train at Kendall. But service was delayed even before that due to another passenger who decided the best way to get help was to pull the emergency brake - while the train was still in the tunnel between Central and Kendall. A passenger on the train reports via e-mail:

Some idiot pulled the emergency brake in response. Conductor was not happy about that. We were stuck between Central and Kendall for about 8 minutes.



Free tagging: 


What a moron

Some people lack any logic at all. It amazes me they got out of bed and were able to even dress themselves.

When you're in an emergency

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When you're in an emergency or urgent situation, you see the "emergency stop" and do what comes naturally. Sometimes, even if everyone else around you isn't freaking out, you are and you're looking for any help you can get. Alot of people think that's what you're supposed to do.

I mean, those things are there for a reason and don't come with explicit instructions to never use inside a tunnel.

So, you know, not a moron or an idiot - a person in a bad spot. With rando innerweb T-Tough-Dudes calling them stupid. Cool.

In none of these scenarios is

In none of these scenarios is pulling the emergency cord recommended. If it shouldn't be pulled in case of fire, medical, or police emergency, perhaps they should add guidance for when it should be pulled.


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Makes me wonder why passengers even need access to the emergency brake to begin with. I doubt anyone riding on the 5th car will ever suddenly have a vision of the signals and trips failing at Quincy Street and the train subsequently rear-ending another standing at Central at 40 m.p.h., and need to spring into action to save everyone.

If a person is caught in the

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If a person is caught in the door and is being dragged, it should be pulled.

If one car in a train has derailed and the train is still moving or if the train has a broken axle and is still moving with a wheel missing (with lots of smoke and sparks), it should be pulled.

There's really only one scenario

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When the movement of the train would endanger the life of a person, directly, that is the time for the brake to be used.

Largely this is limited to someone getting dragged: the door closes on their bag or clothing, and they get caught up as the train leaves the station. That's the primary (and perhaps only) use-case of the "emergency brake" for an ordinary passenger. And it's important enough that you would want to keep some kind of brake available for it, if not something so crude that it disables the train.

I think some places have taken to not labeling it "emergency brake", which implies that it's for all emergencies, and instead have figured out some less excitable wording. That's probably the best choice, plus the installation of those instructional panels that NYCT seems to have... I cannot remember the wording of those labels though, I'm sure someone can come up with something.

NYC has some great signs...

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like in the Port Authority on the escalator, there are signs instructing people to move out of the way once they step off. As the trend is for people to stop and rummage through their bags, send texts, after they get off - while allowing the passengers behind them to scramble to back up onto one another or to some sort of safety, or just fall. Very sad these signs are needed nowadays. The T desperately needs them. They don't even have the Keep Right escalator signs any more, at least not in the places that used to have them when I was a kid.

Signs for People who stop at the top of escalators

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are audio in nature. Perhaps you've heard them. They sound like my (loud) voice saying: "KEEP MOVING, PLEASE - YOU CANNOT STOP HERE - LET'S MOVE IT!!!! - TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK, PEOPLE!!!"

(Confessions: (1) I borrowed that last part from an old driver on the 501 express bus; and (2) I sometimes add "IMBECILE" after "you cannot stop here".)

Standing at the top of a crowded escalator unnecessarily endangers many, many people, and I simply cannot believe how many people fail to recognize this. And yes, it does warrant a public name-calling.

Pretty sure the T has similar

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Pretty sure the T has similar signs. I KNOW they do on the commuter rail, and I'll check on the red line on my way home from work.

You're Right

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You're right. Someone made a mistake in a bad situation. Sorry to be rude.

Emergency services didn't turn up at the station until seconds after we arrived in the station, so I doubt it had any measurable impact on their ability to help the person in distress.


I'd have no problem with the MBTA prosecuting the person who pulled the emergency brake. The consequences, namely significantly delaying emergency response to a person in distress, were obvious and entirely foreseeable.

They weren't some kids

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They weren't some kids pulling the brake as a prank. It was a misguided good intention.

I heard on twitter that the

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I heard on twitter that the emergency intercom button in the car was broken somewhere on twitter, so that may be why they pulled the e brake, FWIW.

I've seen the emergency brake used

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I was on the Red Line coming from Harvard "way back in the day." The train stopped at Charles, the doors didn't open, we went on to Park. The train stopped at Park, the doors didn't open, we went on to Washington Street (yes, way back in the day.) At Washington Street, a fellow trapped rider pulled the switch.

Yes, the T folk were annoyed, but the rest of us didn't want to go to Braintree for the T to find out there was a problem with the car. The oddest part was, it was only the one car on the train.

Yikes! I was going to take Red from Central

..to JFK so I could go check the Neponset Estuary area for south migrating shore birds, (it's that time).

And I was going to cross Moakley Park to get to where Harborwalk starts at the U Mass campus.
I wanted to be there by low tide, 9:47am.

Given the usual time padding I do I would have been in the middle of it.

News you can use.

Be nice to everyone

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I reported this to Adam. 'Idiot' was a bit harsh of me. I was in the first car and the incident happened somewhere further back on the train. Hopefully the stricken person is OK.

Apart from occurrences like a runaway train, please don't pull the emergency lever outside of a station. An ambulance and squad car pulled up to Kendall station within 30 seconds of our arrival.


I'm surprised it only took 8 minutes to reset the brakes and keep moving.

Yeah no kidding... with all

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Yeah no kidding... with all the hyper-security these days I'm surprised they didn't have to get the MBTA Police involved to investigate for 90 minutes before allowing the train to continue down the tracks.

NY does get it right

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we desperately need these commonsense signs in Boston like not blocked escalators, staying on the right hand side, especially up and down stairs, hell....something about taking big ass backpacks off on crowded trains wouldn't hurt,either.

When I was little there were far more commonsense PA announcements on the T, even warning people about pick pockets. These days, I get the impression management doesn't want to potentially upset sensitive passengers.