T: Green Line driver was coming off overnight shift at second job when he plowed train into another trolley

The MBTA said today it is firing the driver responsible for a collision at Boylston station last week that sent three dozen people to the hospital with minor injuries and caused $500,000 in damage to trolleys.

Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis said the driver told investigators he had come off a midnight-to-8 a.m. shift at another job when he started his first run of the day on the Green Line at 11 a.m. - about 45 minutes before the collision at Boylston.

Davis said he could not say if the driver, who had been driving for the T full time, fell asleep but that he was clearly "inattentive" when he ran his train into a stopped train at the station. He said the T's investigation had ruled out any physical problems with the tracks or trolleys and that the driver admitted everything seemed to be working fine in the moments before the collision.

Davis said the T has no policy against second jobs or requirements that workers inform managers about second jobs, but that drivers are expected to be fully alert while driving trains - and that the three-hour gap between the end of his second job and the start of his first run on the Green Line did not leave the driver enough time to get adequate sleep.

He declined to name the driver and the location and nature of the second job.



Free tagging: 


Why no ID?

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Adam, any sense of why the T wouldn't disclose the driver's name? More to the point, do they even have the option not to?

What investigation

You mean there's an official DOT crash investigation report already? Or are they firing someone before the report comes out, and without a hearing, so he'll be able to sue for wrongful termination because they fired him without all the evidence in place?

Why WOULD they?

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He's already fired. Releasing his name doesn't do anyone any good.

How much do trolley drivers

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How much do trolley drivers make? Sounds like probably not much.

That was my thought, too.

That was my thought, too. Pity that someone who has a job with great potential for causing physical harm has to work a second job.

Some perspective is in order.

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The starting salary for the Suffolk ADAs, the people that we rely on to successfully prosecute criminals is $35-$43K (and almost all on the lower side of that). Every single one of them has graduated from law school and passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam. Also, it is not possible to do that job in less than 50-60 hours a week at a minimum, and in many cases, you're expected to show up in the worst places in the middle of the night when the cops find a body.

The Green Line operators can cause physical harm to people - only if they do something totally irresponsible like take drugs, run a light or fall asleep. Otherwise, the trolleys operate on a track, and there is not much chance for error. They also work standard hours (35 or 37.5) work weeks, and some are overtime eligible. I don't believe any of the ADAs are.

In view of this, it is difficult for me to believe that the Green Line operators are underpaid, or to be upset that they have to work a second job. After all, most of the ADAs have been doing that for years.

Well, I don't think anyone

Well, I don't think anyone dealing with any major responsibility at a job should have to deal with such a paltry salary (though I kept a job for 4 years that paid $25K and required 50 hrs a week + lots of time spent on ladders wielding power tools - don't know how I made it out with all ten fingers). It looks like train operators make more than I expected anyway, so my concern may be somewhat misguided.

Just a guess...

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Just a guess, but I believe the driver is working a second job to earn extra money to pay for child support. (Sadly I know a few co-workers who have second full-time jobs just for that very reason alone.)

Heaven Forbid!

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That men be responsible for the children their children ... or that they be expected to be responsible for their children.

Come on, let's not pretend

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Come on, let's not pretend that the child support system is somehow perfect and doesn't milk men of their money far beyond a child's needs.

MBTA wages

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This was posted on the MBTA web site from 2009
Part-Time Motorperson - $19.62 per hour
Part-Time Bus Operator - $19.62 per hour
Part-Time Streetcar Motorperson - $19.81 per hour
Full-Time Track Laborer - $18.04 per hour
Part-Time Customer Service Agent (CSA) - $19.10 per hour

The rates are probably higher now.

commuter airline pilots make

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commuter airline pilots make as little as $17k a year, and their hours and work arrangements are much worse than T drivers.

aren't there federal requirements?

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Aren't there federal requirements for amounts of sleep for train operators? There are for truckers - they have to keep logbooks.

"He declined to name the driver and the location and nature of the second job."

All the documents related to the crash report should be public record. Name this asshole - he should have known better.

No current jurisdiction over light rail

The Obama administration proposed expanding the USDOT/FTA's oversight of rail to include light rail and subways in 2009, but last I checked (a few months ago) Congress had only just approved the idea, and actual regulatory language was still in the draft stage.


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This driver gets fired yet he violated no rules and was not asleep. Didn't you do stories on other T workers who were asleep on the job and were never fired?

Running a red light and

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Running a red light and crashing into another train would be rules violations, if the investigation concludes that's what happened.

This driver gets fired yet he

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This driver gets fired yet he violated no rules

I'm pretty sure "be attentive so you don't crash your train" is one of the rules.


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I have a desk job and I'm required to have my employer sign off on any other jobs I take ... I can't believe the T doesn't do this already.

Why? It's no business of your

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Why? It's no business of your current employer if you have another job as long as it doesn't interfere with that one.

Obviously in this case it did, however.

Um, because one employer is different from another (duh)?

What is this, the Boston Herald?! Because that's honestly the kind of ridiculous in-my-little-world rant you'd find there.

A. Most "desk jobs" I know don't require you to submit that you're working a second (or third or fourth) job unless there's a potential conflict of interest, e.g. working for two drug manufacturers at the same time. It's kind of an unwritten rule that you get enough sleep between each job in order to perform the next job at the functionality expected of you.

B. Even if the MBTA had to and did "sign off" on the operator's other job, would it honestly have made a difference? Of course no one can be truly functional on three hours of sleep, but who's the MBTA or anyone else to say so? Lest we forget, the operator was about to get a "safe operator" award so he must have done something right over the past.


... it was only the staff of the train that was HIT who were actually scheduled to receive awards.

I can get better

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The feds(FRA) amongst others have been working on new ground-rules for all train operators after the disaster in LA, several years ago. Researchers and the military are well aware that individuals whom work an overnight shift --- sub-perform with an immediate following duty(whatever it may be).

The individuals name will come out. And, I hope the blog doesn't devolve to the Herald's cesspool of commentaries.

The FRA rules will only apply

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The FRA rules will only apply to railroads, not transit systems.

And it's a big fiasco. It's an unfunded mandate that all passenger railroads must install PTC (a signal system that can automatically stop trains that run a red) on a very short timeframe. And a totally new signal system is required even on railroads that already have cab signals that can stop the train, like the LIRR.

PTC is a good idea in theory, but most railroads don't have the billions it's going to take, and aren't going to come close to meeting the deadline.

Scapegoat for an Antiquated Signaling System

I honestly could care less what the circumstances were for this crash, as long as the Green Line signaling system is stuck in the '60s these things will continue to happen. Positive Train Control isn't perfect but it drastically reduces rail crashes.

And to all the people complaining that it will reduce the headway of trains, think about it, how many times have you stood on the outbound platform waiting for a "D" or "E" train and it's C-C-B-C-C-B-E-C-D? Where's the efficiency there?!

robots too!

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We should get rid of any manufacturing or service jobs and have robot slaves do them. Then we can all laugh a hearty laugh when no one has a job but us who paid thousands to get into school, our perhaps had our job given to us by our fathers. Yes, it will be a great day to finally rid ourselves of the laboring classes! Hear hear good man!

I agree. Look at the rapid

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I agree. Look at the rapid tech innovations for cars. Technology currently being implemented will increase car mileage by 90%. Self-drive car technology and car-to-car communications will increase the capacity of existing roads by 50% and make the roads safer.
Public transit needs to catch-up. Trains need to communicate to each other for scheduling. And trolleys need power systems, like batteries or fuel cells that don't require wires or third rails.
In public transportation the biggest innovation has been the availability of bicycles for hire; and maybe pedcars.

Read 'Player Piano' by Kurt

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Read 'Player Piano' by Kurt Vonnegut if you're interested in seeing where this kind of thinking gets you.

Here's where that kind of

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Here's where that kind of thinking would get us.... Trains wouldn't crash into one another.

Is this the same MBTA

that was ordered to rehire that fuckhead who beat his wife with a chain, and all those other losers and layabouts profiled in the Herald piece from a while back? Ah yes, here's that story, behind a paywall now to the detriment of the public interest.
Can the T truly fire someone nowadays?