Feds blast T for unreported 'near misses' on subway tracks

Federal regulators once again ordered the MBTA to make immediate changes after a series of recent near misses put employees at risk of being struck by trains, a repeat of the same issue that landed the T in the spotlight earlier this year.

The Federal Transit Administration determined Thursday that "a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of serious injury or death of a worker," and it rolled out nine new requirements that the T must follow to improve worker safety.

The new letter from FTA Chief Safety Officer Joe DeLorenzo reopens scrutiny on "near misses," when moving trains and trolleys nearly strike workers in the track area, after federal officials earlier this year flagged a series of such incidents at the MBTA and ordered fixes.

"Despite taking these actions, over the last month MBTA has experienced four additional near miss events, including two incidents on the Red Line and two on the Green Line," DeLorenzo wrote in a letter dated Thursday. "The MBTA also failed to report these near misses as required by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU)."

Starting immediately, the MBTA must notify the FTA within two hours any time a near miss incident occurs. The T also has four business days to produce a "detailed explanation" of why it was slow to report near misses to DPU, which serves as the state agency in charge of MBTA safety oversight.

Other actions the FTA ordered include prohibiting the use of "lone workers" on the train right-of-way, additional training for dispatchers and supervisors, and development of a new plan to verify communication between site workers and dispatchers.



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