Frantic MBTA Passengers Kick Out Windows of Smoke-Filled Orange Line Car

Following a chaotic scene at the State Street station Tuesday night, officials at Mass Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) say they will begin a thorough inspection of the Orange Line trains. According to transportation officials, at around 8:30 pm Tuesday night, deteriorating fasteners caused a body panel to fall off an Orange Line train and onto the tracks. The train subsequently ran over the panel, resulting in a disabled train, an overheated motor, and a smoky T station. In fact, as the train began to fill with smoke, some passengers kicked through windows to escape. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Loose Body Panel Hardware Was the Culprit

The good news coming out of this incident is that nobody was injured and MBTA will immediately begin conducting inspections of the Orange Line’s fleet of 120 cars, some of which have been in service since the 1970s. Although the Orange Line cars aren’t the oldest on the T, the older Red and Green Line cars have been rebuilt since they were put into service. The Orange Line vehicles have not. In a statement, the T’s general manager, Frank DePaola said, “Following last night’s incident involving two Orange Line trains, the MBTA is immediately incorporating inspection of body panel hardware as part of regular maintenance work on Orange Line cars.” Let’s hope they stay true to their word, as a future incident could have a more devastating outcome.

According to officials, two cars struck the panel, the car from which it fell and another about six minutes later. Since the train had not come to a proper stop at the station, the doors remained locked. Passengers, who were likely concerned with increasing levels of smoke, had to kick out windows and crawl through the openings to escape. Immediately after the incident, workers inspected every train and secured 13 panels. The panels are actually unique to trains on the Orange Line, so trains from other lines don’t need to be inspected for loose panels. The MBTA performs routine maintenance on the Orange Line trains at 12,000 mile intervals, however, checking for deterioration of fasteners on panels has not been standard procedure. From now on, it will be.

Orange and Red Lines in Head-to-Head Match for Least Reliable Fleet. Over the years, both the Orange and Red lines have become increasingly unreliable. Between February 8th and 14th, the Orange Line trains were running late about 20% of the time. According to MBTA officials, cars from both fleets are scheduled to be replaced, beginning in 2018. Four new cars will be delivered monthly until 2022.

Similar Incident Occurred Last Year. Tuesday’s incident was the second in a little over a year where panic arose due to a smoke-filled MBTA subway train. In January of last year, a failure in a train car’s propulsion system caused a Red Line car to fill with smoke at the Quincy Center station. In that incident, passengers also kicked out the windows of the car.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Injury Lawyers Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas

At Altman & Altman, LLP, our motor vehicle accident team has extensive experience in public transportation litigation. The city of Boston is no stranger to MBTA issues. If you’ve been injured, our lawyers have the experience, knowledge, and skill to get you the compensation you deserve. We will make sure you understand your rights and options before moving forward. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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