People were on the verge of passing out on a Red Line car with no AC stuck at Park Street with doors shut

Daniel Brim was among the people trapped in an un-air-conditioned car on an Alewife-bound Red Line train that had started to leave Park Street when it suddenly just stopped around 6:30 p.m. He reports on the increasingly dire situation that ended only when people tried (and failed) to bust open a door and called 911 about heat stroke:

Train pulled out of the station about 20 feet, then broke down. Emergency power only, so no AC. Our car was still next to the platform.

It was probably 90 degrees with high humidity outside the car, and the temperature gradually started to rise. Five minutes later, we got the announcement: "The train is kind of not moving right now."

As the temperature started to rise, people got restless. Cooler air was visible. The conductor refused to open the door. Five minutes later, still the same situation. At that point it was over 100 with very high humidity.

The current Red Line cars do not have safety window exits on the inside, and the platform was still visible. People pressed the emergency call button to get the conductor to open the door, but she can't open the car doors independently. Still no word on when the doors will open.

People start to panic. There are several infants and several elderly people on this train. We're starting to get into heat stroke range with the temperature. Not everybody can sit.

Continued refusals to open the door only make this worse. The temperature continues to climb. Somebody tries to pry open the door manually and fails.

As one of the people starts to waver visibly, on the edge of passing out, somebody desperately radios the conductor saying that a passenger is on the edge of heat stroke. Somebody else calls 911. More banging on the windows, trying to get people on the platform to help.

It turned out that "heat stroke" was the magic word. After the threat of medical liability was realistic, suddenly the MBTA sprung to action and opened the doors from the outside, with the car temperature likely in the range of 110.

So, basically, the MBTA put many people in the realm of medical danger today, and the safety procedures failed them. It only took continuous escalation to sort things out, and things were on the edge of getting extremely dangerous.

The lack of fire windows on the train is a real problem. So was the continuous lack of support from the train staff. They are extremely lucky it didn't escalate even further. Charlie Baker, how will you fix this problem?

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Charlie Baker put the people in danger

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So, basically, the MBTA put many people in the realm of medical danger today, and the safety procedures failed them. It only took continuous escalation to sort things out, and things were on the edge of getting extremely dangerous.

Agreed. I donated and voted (never again) to Charlie Baker. He is responsible for this. Is there no shift supervisor at the T that could take control of the situation? Management 101?

Only a matter of time before a death occurs on one of these broken trains. Transit has its own subculture and many riders are down and out or elderly with health problems. Expose them to 100+ degrees and one or more will die. Then what?

Before the T Police became huge, there were men (and a few women) known as MBTA "starters" who had police powers and the authority to fix things on the buses and the rails, in this case either backing the train to the platform or pushing it along. Do we still have them? I only take the T a few times a year but enjoy the coverage here. Baker has been a disaster on this.

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Voting is closed. 34

But there's nothing

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any supervisor can do. It's literally impossible to fire a T employee. Their union is bullet proof.

There is no accountability because there is no way to enforce policies. Employees simply don't show up to work (last year, I read the average amount of non-authorized leave was 3 MONTHS), or rip-off the agency (remember the T mechanic who made $300k+ in his final year by somehow working 54 hours of OT each week, for 52 straight weeks?).

Until you can fire problem employees and reward good ones, nothing will happen. You are paying for management that has literally no capability to change employee behavior since firing them is nearly legally impossible. Doesn't matter if it's Charlie Baker or Deval Patrick on Beacon Hill.

The only way to "fix" the MBTA is to start over. Eliminate all contracts, fire every employee and let them all interview again for their jobs. Put in place rational pay structures, with oversight so no more OT theft can occur. If someone doesn't show up for work, they get a warning. Do it again, they get fired. Reign in the pension plans that let 20 year employees earn free health care (for themselves AND their spouse) for life, but still go back to work for some T contractor 2 years after "retiring" and double-dip from the tax/fare payers.

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Voting is closed. 19

Not true

Love how you veered into WE MUST SCREW THE WORKERS TO SAVE THE SYSTEM territory based on complete and utter falsehoods.

The T fires people all the time. They just don't put them in stocks and take out articles in the paper about it.

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Voting is closed. 20

No, eliminate every employee

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Because it's their fault the Red Line runs cars build in the early 1970s, though those are just as good as the vintage 1980s cars.

I'm sure whoever replaces them can get antiques to run like new.

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Voting is closed. 15

Hey, man

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Charlie Baker went to the ribbon-cutting of a train that might be ready for public use sometime in the next 5 years, what else can a man do? Also he's very popular

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Voting is closed. 29

Ribbon cutting

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The procurement for those new trains started under Gov. Patrick. How nice that Gov. Baker could be there for the ribbon cutting.

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Voting is closed. 15

It is a great idea!

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It's been a great idea for a while!

When that day finally comes when I actually get to take a successful trip on a brand new Red/Orange Line car, I vow to be back here and admit that it actually finally happened.

And until then, if you see me holding my breath, it's because I'm waiting and waiting at Park Street on a muggy stinky sweaty day and not because I'm holding my breath waiting for the new cars to be ready.

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Voting is closed. 7

The problem is

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The other things that need care- signals, switches, electrical, tracks, and so on- don't have those really great photo-op moments. Nor do the average commuter notice them, until they are not working.

The week-end shutdowns of the Orange Line have been a bummer for me, until I found out that they need to do major work on some of the slabs the rails are on. I'll take being shunted onto buses if it means a quicker, safer ride.

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Voting is closed. 8

It will definitely decline

It will definitely decline with me, unfortunately, my experience is that people who don't take the T regularly are not concerned with the T's issues.

The underground stations themselves are so muggy, that people pack onto the trains to avoid having to wait there any longer.

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Voting is closed. 12

How do you know they didn’t

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How do you know they didn’t do this, and nothing happened? I’ve been on GL trains thrice where I’ve attempted to use the emergency-stop mechanism, and nothing happened. Fortunately, I have a loud mouth and could shout up to the front of the trolley. Different situation on the RL. So, ya, maybe gather facts, first and be sure before shouting on the internet.

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Voting is closed. 25

I think it was pulled

I spoke with someone who was in that train car. He said it was pulled. I didn't ask him what effect pulling the level had.

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Voting is closed. 14

Supposedly, Pulling Ring And Lever Will Unlock The Adjacent Door

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The signs only say it will stop the train in an emergency, but others have reported it should also unlock the adjacent door at the end of the car. I've never tried it, so I don't know for sure.

However, doing so isn't necessarily a wise solution to the situation. Even if the car is at the platform, it's not easy to evacuate through that door. If the car is within a tunnel, it's much more difficult and dangerous to do, especially without coordinated assistance from professionals.

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Voting is closed. 10

Bear in mind, also,

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that the third rail is there, and, unless the MBTA staff shuts off the third rail, someone could be electrocuted, or at least badly hurt. A number of years ago, a guy who was working as a track inspector for the Red Line got an acute shock from the third rail, almost got electrocuted, and ended up in the hospital for awhile. Not good, at all.

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Voting is closed. 8

The T word

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The great Tip O'neil once said all politics are local. If all the political leaders in this state from selectman to senator could concentrate their energies on fixing the mess known as the T and stop wasting their constituents time fixated on Trumps latest tweet maybe something could be done before we have a mass casualty event on the MBTA.

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Voting is closed. 15

I am so fucking mad reading

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I am so fucking mad reading this. Something real bad is going to happen if the MBTA keeps up with this.

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Voting is closed. 35

I totally agree with you, anon!

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Reading this article is pissing the hell out of me, as well. It's beyond disgusting that the people in charge can so callously disregard the welfare, well-being and very lives of people who use the MBTA.

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Voting is closed. 8

"On the verge of passing out"

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I have felt that way in the last week just waiting on the platform at DTX and Park St for a train.

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Voting is closed. 26

Fire the operator

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and everyone above them that is responsible for this obviously deliberate policy. Before someone dies.

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Voting is closed. 18

The operator was correct that

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The operator was correct that she couldn't open the doors for only certain cars. It's all or nothing. And she would have gotten fired if she'd opened the doors when any of the train was already away from the platform.

Admittedly this is armchair speculation, but I'd wager it's not the threat of calling 911 or the "magic words" heat stroke that got the T to finally get someone to open the car doors, but rather it coincidentally took that long to determine that the train was indeed disabled and they couldn't get it moving again, and then get someone there who could open the doors manually from the outside.

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Voting is closed. 26

Also note that nowhere does

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Also note that nowhere does the Twitter report say anything about HOW LONG they were trapped on the train. The post saying he got out came a while after the fact.

Windows that people could open and hop out would be a terrible idea. But windows that opened a small amount for ventilation would be a big help in situations like this.

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Voting is closed. 6

You should have the right to

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You should have the right to kick the windows out at that point. Your health takes precedent over the T's issues.

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Voting is closed. 29

I would have removed a window

You don't even have to kick them out on some trains - just peel out the fat rubber stuff around the sides.

This is an emergency, so it would be fully justified. The T would not want the publicity from harassing someone who took this measure - particularly in a city full of people who are professionally able to evaluate that it was a heat emergency.

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Voting is closed. 15

2007 - riders forced open doors on the longfellow

The train went dead on a hot day in the blazing sun on the bridge. Power outage.

Unable to cope with the heat, people in the train worked the doors open and got out.

They got help from people in the train behind who liberated themselves at Kendall.

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Voting is closed. 8

Bring battering ram. It just

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Bring battering ram. It just might be the only quick way out. WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE IF WE DON'T !!!!

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Voting is closed. 9

The current Red Line cars do

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The current Red Line cars do not have safety window exits on the inside, and the platform was still visible.

Wait, so there's no way to get out of the car in an emergency?
Next time i'm on the red line, ill look for a lever or something.

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Voting is closed. 12

The solution

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Said it before and I'll say it again: if every single MBTA employee had to ride the T every single day, and pay for it out of their own pockets (no free parking either), I think you'd find some speedier solutions to these problems.

And to the inevitable "but money, but funding" cries: how much money do you think the T will have after people justifiably sue their bureaucratic asses off over incidents like this?

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Voting is closed. 14

The MBTA is not 24 hours

So many workers could not ride the t every day.

There needs to be a minimum requirement for those in MANAGEMENT and, more critically, those in the STATEHOUSE to ride the MBTA.

If we could get an initiative petition going to strip state reps of parking privileges on the hill and replace them with T passes, we might make our point. Making motormen and bus drivers who come on line at 5am or go off shift at 1am commute by T is not possible - and they are as much victims of incompetent stupidity in the statehouse as we are.

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Voting is closed. 37

Well....

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Said it before and I'll say it again: if every single MBTA employee had to ride the T every single day, and pay for it out of their own pockets (no free parking either), I think you'd find some speedier solutions to these problems.

Well....let's hope you're right, lbb!

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Voting is closed. 9

T survival tools

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Good morning!

Several things:

Heads up - I just reported some type of light next to the 3rd rail on the outbound Porter tracks. Can't tell if it's a ratty treasure or an LED of some type.

I take the T as primary means of transport, and I also have heat intolerance, so this situation worries me a lot. I pack two cooling towels in my bag - one for me and another for whomever. These can be kept in the fridge or freezer so they last for a long time. I also carry an iced drink, lots of tissues/paper towels and a cooling cap. I only travel during non rush because I can't stand for long periods without losing my blood pressure and passing out.

I hate the T, and I'm careful to describe exactly why during each month's passenger survey. I recommend that all of you join and help explain the situations which are dangerous.

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Voting is closed. 16

Commute

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I always pack a cold bottle of water before i step onto the T. You never know about the A/C and i don't want to faint in a car.
Also people will kick out a window of a stranger's car if there was a dog or child locked inside the car, maybe fear of T suing the commuters stopped any window smashing on the orange line.

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Voting is closed. 12

Cold water isn't enough

Ventilating the car and removing people from the heat is the only answer for those who do not customarily carry frozen supplies.

Cold water won't keep you from fainting - heat affects many different body systems, and most heat related hospitalization and mortality is cardiovascular deaths as the body struggles to pump blood around fast enough to remove heat through the skin.

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Voting is closed. 8

Keep on keeping on, isaacg.

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If people hear it over and over again long enough, it's bound to have an affect. Calling the MBTA would more than likely help, too. Keep hammering the head of the nail and sooner or later, it's going to go in.

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Voting is closed. 13

Call from home!

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What's so hard about that?

Or, if you've just gotten off the MBTA and it's not closing time for the MBTA people, call them from your cell phone or smart phone.

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Voting is closed. 8

Uber is Air Conditioned

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The state should take the money they spend on the MBTA and subsidize Uber and lyft Riders with monthly passes.

Uber is far superior to the MBTA and its door to door.

Another idea would be to subsidize the uber pass if rider uses Uber Pool to commute.

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Voting is closed. 13