Thursday, four days before he left for a new job as a new US Attorney for Massachusetts, Suffolk County Attorney Rachael Rollins, announced a criminal investigation into the MBTA in response to a crash on the Green Line last summer that injured 27 passengers.
“There is perhaps no state agency that has a greater impact on the daily lives of the millions of people who live and work in the greater Boston area than the T,” said DA Rollins. in a statement announcing the investigation on Thursday. “Therefore, it is imperative that if we find any continued lack of oversight or neglect at the MBTA, this is exposed and corrected.”
Rollins also cited other serious incidents at or near MBTA facilities this summer, including a heartbreaking escalator failure at Back Bay Station, a Red Line derailment and the death of professor David Jones. at Boston University, died in a fall from a broken one. Staircase owned by MassDOT adjacent to MBTA’s JFK/UMass station in September.
“When their acts and omissions endanger the safety of community members and their own employees, sometimes the only way to effect change is through the courts and public demands for action,” Rollins said in his statement Thursday.
Ironically, the investigation begins just weeks after the MBTA finally launched a long-delayed project to improve train safety on the Green Line.
After two other serious accidents in 2008 and 2009 – one of them dead – the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that the T install a positive train control system – technologies designed to prevent collisions between trains – on the Green Line.
But that recommendation languished for more than a decade as the T juggled other pressing priorities and a massive backlog of needed repair work.
Two years ago, the MBTA Board of Finance and Controllership authorized a contract for a new Green Line Train Protection System, a $170 million project. December 15, the T has released its first monthly construction update for this project. It should be completed in 2024.