After Accident, T Fires Driver, Faces Questions About Moonlighting

BOSTON — The MBTA has fired the operator of the Green Line trolley that crashed into another at Boylston Station last week. On Wednesday, the T said the driver may have fallen asleep before the accident that sent 37 to the hospital and caused $500,000 in damages.

The operator had apparently been moonlighting, something about which the MBTA does not ask its employees.

The T said the driver worked the graveyard shift at another job before operating the trolley. He crashed it less than an hour into his shift. Acting T GM Jonathan Davis said it was the driver’s second straight day working 17.5-hour days.

“His schedule was the same the day before,” Davis said. “He worked a midnight-to-8-a.m. shift with his other employer. And then he worked from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the MBTA.”

Three-and-a-half hours later, the driver was back at the overnight shift at the second job. Three hours after that, he was behind the wheel again.

“Because of his alarming disregard for customer and employee safety, and performing his duty as a Green Line operator, he was fired,” Davis said. “I want to remind our customers that the system is safe. I ride the system every day. And as part of my journey home tonight, I’ll be taking the Green Line.”

But Davis would not know whether his driver had been moonlighting as well. MBTA operators are allowed to have second jobs. And they don’t have to tell their supervisors about them. Davis said it’s up to drivers to make sure they show up for work with enough rest. He said this driver is solely at fault for being inattentive, not the organization.

“Well, I think we will take a look to see what we can do,” he said. “I’m not sure we can legislate what people do outside of the MBTA.”

But other transportation agencies do. Marc Littman, with the Los Angeles County MTA, said their train and bus drivers are required to inform supervisors of outside work.

“We need to know what the second job entails,” Littman said. “Particularly we want to know if it entails driving. Because we don’t want someone to be fatigued when they’re driving a 15- to 20-ton bus or train, and get into an accident.”

An accident like the one last week at Boylston Station. The MBTA won’t name the driver. But Davis said the driver had gone through two training sessions about preventing fatigue.

This post was updated with the Morning Edition feature version.

– Here’s surveillance footage of the crash:

Earlier Coverage:

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  • Lawrence

    The guy was probably desperately trying to provide for his family. With prices going up, and the rich taking advantage of the poor, it’s no wonder that this poor guy was working so many hours. ( Yes, he was stupid and not responsible.)

    Seriously, many people are living under the same circumstances. Working 2-3 jobs, never seeing the kids. The kids are brought up on the street, video games and TV.

    Wouldn’t it be nice for families to be together instead of this desperate need to earn enough money to make it to the next week, never mind save for retirement.

  • Rae

    I am very disappointed in the way WBUR has been handling this story. Spitting out the term “moonlighting” as if it is a crime fails to take into consideration the possibilities in the comment below. Yes, the crash was horrible and avoidable, but human error happens all over our lives and to demonize this particular MBTA employee for doing what I imagine he had to do by is heartless.

  • dust truck

    It would help if the MBTA actually paid living wages so that their employees wouldn’t be forced into moonlighting. Instead they keep wasting money on heating lamps at bus stops. Bizarre priorities.

  • Anusha

    I was disappointed that WBUR didn’t even address the over-arching, structural issue of why people moonlight in general, which is usually because they can’t make ends meet with just one job. I’m not saying that the driver acted in a way that was responsible, but solely blaming him for structural problems that exist at higher, managerial levels, is, I believe, irresponsible reporting, and not what I expected from this institution.

  • jmlorimer

    This incident shows how difficult it is to make ends meet in this economy. The MBTA should have a little more compassion. WHY did this guy have to work 80 hours a week? Maybe his home mortgage is under water and he’s desperately trying to stave off foreclosure. Maybe he has a kid with special needs that insurance won’t cover. Maybe a family member is seriously ill and doesn’t have adequate insurance. Maybe he has a parent in a nursing home. If someone has to work two full-time jobs to survive, the system is broken. Rents are going up, working class income is going down, and the Republicans want to give more tax cuts to the rich. I wish that every Presidential candidate, Governor,Senator and Congressperson was required to work for 6 months at a minimum wage job (no dipping into bank accounts, stock portfolios and trust funds allowed) and have to support their families on their take-home pay. I’d love to see Mitt Romney and his ilk try to survive on $400 a week,

  • noslack2327

    If this guy needs a second job to take care of his family that is a most unfortunate circumstance. That said, if it requires his working bizarre hours that cause diminished performance in his job with the T then he needs to give one of the jobs up. Passengers’ safety relies on his being able to execute the job at adequate standards.

  • Pat McM

    Sad story, but the driver worked two jobs for years, without a problem, just trying to survive. He made a mistake. Who hasn’t had a car accident or other?

  • DMSargent

    There are rules for commercial passenger vehicle drivers providing for the safety of the driver AND their passenger. I am not aware of ANY passenger vehicle as large as a subway trolley. Why are they allowed to disregard the safety of their passengers and themselves? I understand the need to have another job to help pay bills, I have had that privilege. Neither of them paid as well as an MBTA driver. Neither of them directly involved the safety of other individuals. The MBTA was correct in removing him from his position. Their rules DID allow for their employees having second job, as long as it did not impact their employment at the T. In this case, it did. Case closed, he loses his job. He still has another full-time job. Now, the MBTA should ensure ALL their drivers have ONE job and their focus is on the safety of their passengers AND themselves.

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