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?