Derailed trust: Another Green Line accident raises questions about trolley safety

A look at the Green Line derailment in Allston Tuesday night.

Just three weeks after a Green Line trolley crashed into the back of a stationary trolley at Boylston Station, injuring 35 people, the notoriously troubled line had another incident.

An inbound Green Line trolley went off the tracks around 9 p.m. Tuesday night at the Packard’s Corner T-stop in Allston – the second derailment in three months.

But at the Green Line stop at Park Street today, not only did most strap holders know nothing about Tuesday’s derailment, once they got the low down, they were not bothered by it.

“I think I would be bothered if it happened to me, but so far no issues,” said Green Line rider Jason Wright as he sat on a bench during the evening commute.

Down the platform his fellow passenger Jimmy Melanson also said he felt safe on the T: “I’ve been riding the train my whole life. I have no problem with it, as long as it gets me where I need to go.”

They may be right – according to T officials, passengers should not fear derailments and collisions.

“Derailments that are not the result of an accident or a misplaced switch are very rare,” MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email. “Green Line managers are working to determine the cause of (Tuesday’s) incident in which no one was hurt.”

In Tuesday’s accident the front wheels of the second car of the train slipped off the rails. T officials are investigating the cause.

“Green Line operators make more than 600 trips everyday (millions per year) without any incidents or unusual activity whatsoever. It’s a credit to the MBTA’s excellent training program and robust level of supervision in the field,” he said.

According to the Federal Transit Administration, the MBTA operates one of the safest light rail  systems in the nation, with fewer accidents than the national average.

Transportation officials credit that to the T’s “laser-like focus” on proper maintenance of Green Line vehicles and tracks, according to Pesaturo, as well as the T’s nationally-recognized employee training programs.  

“The intensive programs provide employees with all the training and instruction necessary to operate trains and buses safely and reliably,” he said.

Like his fellow T riders last night, Patrick Wood had not gotten wind of Tuesday’s accident, however he said he is not surprised.

“That makes me want to avoid the Green Line even more. If I can get somewhere without using the Green Line, I’ll take it, even if it takes me longer to get there,” Wood said.

“It sounds like the drivers fault every time this happens. If it’s not happening on the Red or the Orange line then something is wrong with this line, and (the T) should do more about it.”

When asked about preventing accidents on the Green Line, Pesaturo said that once investigators determine the cause of Tuesday’s incident, MBTA managers will take “whatever corrective actions are necessary to prevent a similar incident in the future.”


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