BOSTON (SHNS) – A Tuesday morning derailment on the Red Line, the latest in a string of incidents on the MBTA, highlights the “urgent need” for Beacon Hill to steer more resources to the transit agency and for Gov. Charlie Baker to pull the trigger on selecting a new governing board, an advocacy group said.
The group TransitMatters issued several demands for Gov. Charlie Baker, the Legislature and the MBTA on Tuesday afternoon, calling for an “ambitious agenda to inventory and repair or replace aging infrastructure,” accelerated delivery of brand-new Red and Orange Line cars to replace the vehicle fleets, and stepped-up oversight of the T.
“A high functioning public transit system is essential for Metro Boston’s economy, providing access to jobs & key destinations, reducing traffic congestion & providing mobility equity. It is also essential if Massachusetts is going to attain its carbon emissions goals,” the group wrote. “A series of recent events disrupting MBTA service underscores the urgent need for the Governor and Legislature to provide the T with the necessary resources to step up critical repair and maintenance activities.”
MBTA officials are investigating the cause of the derailment, which did not cause any injuries, and assessing how much damage the train inflicted on the platform at Broadway Station. TransitMatters noted that older Red Line vehicles “have a history of platform strikes, namely at Charles/MGH.”
Shuttle buses will continue to replace train service between JFK/UMass and Park Street stations through at least the evening rush Tuesday, and officials have not announced when that stretch of the subway will reopen.
The MBTA has been operating without its own dedicated governing body since lawmakers and Baker allowed the Fiscal and Management Control Board to dissolve on June 30. Baker signed a law on July 29 authorizing a permanent MBTA board of directors to succeed that panel, but he still has not appointed members.
On Aug. 2, Baker said he expected to make his selections “sometime in the next four to six weeks.”
TransitMatters called for Baker to appoint “members who can match or exceed the expertise of the former FMCB.”
“The nearly three-month delay in making these appointments is unacceptable,” the group said.
In July, a Green Line train traveling at three times the local speed limit struck another Green Line train from behind, injuring 27 people. The MBTA is taking steps to fire the driver involved in that crash.
One of the T’s new Orange Line trains derailed at Wellington Station in March, prompting the agency to pull all of the CRRC MA-manufactured vehicles from service for several months.
Officials have not provided an update on the investigation into that incident since June 7, when MBTA Deputy General Manager said several factors contributed to the derailment including a faulty part in the train’s truck frame and aging track infrastructure.
Three new Orange Line trains are back in service as of Tuesday, and MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said a fourth will return next week. The new Red Line cars should be introduced by December, Pesaturo said.
The MBTA plans to replace the entire existing Orange and Red Line fleets with new cars. Last year, officials announced a major delay would push the delivery date to April 2023 for the final Orange Line cars and to September 2024 for the final Red Line cars.
In the wake of Tuesday’s derailment, TransitMatters called for the T to take “every necessary and appropriate action to accelerate delivery of new Red and Orange Line cars.”