MBTA ‘Welcomes' Federal Investigation, Report Expected by Late Summer

The MBTA has come under fire in recent years for several incidents involving passenger injuries and a recent death

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A Federal Transit Administration review of the MBTA's safety practices after several high profile incidents resulted in the death or injury of its riders is expected to be completed by late summer, officials said Monday.

At Monday’s MBTA Safety, Health and Environment subcommittee meeting, members were given a brief update on the FTA's Safety Management Inspection.

MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ron Ester told members that the FTA's review kicked off last week with a series of meetings. He said the inspection will continue over the next few weeks and a final report is tentatively expected by late summer.

"As always, safety is our number one priority, and we will fully support the SMI review and cooperate with the FTA," Ester said.

Scott Darling, a member of the MBTA's board of directors, added that the subcommittee "welcomes" the FTA investigation and anything that can be done to improve safety.

Board member Mary Beth Mello echoed that "safety is our priority" and said she is "keenly interested" in the FTA's review.

Earlier this month, federal investigators determined that a passenger door on a Boston subway car did not function properly when Robinson Lalin got his arm stuck in it and was dragged to his death last month.

A faulty door control system contributed to the death of a man who was dragged by an MBTA train, federal investigators said.

The MBTA has also come under fire in recent years for several other incidents involving injuries, including a Green Line collision in the summer of 2021 that sent dozens of people to the hospital.

The MBTA has ramped up infrastructure spending over the past several years in an attempt to make the system safer and more reliable. The MBTA’s major infrastructure spending went from $600 million in 2014 to a record $1.92 billion last year. The goal for the current fiscal year is $2 billion.

A spokesperson pointed to safety projects including the Green Line Anti-Collision Program, upgrades on the Red and Orange Lines and positive train control systems installed on MBTA commuter rail corridors and vehicles.

Another federal agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, is already involved with the MBTA amid an investigation into last month's fatal Red Line incident.

NTSB investigators said in a preliminary report last week that they found a "fault in a local door control system that enabled the train to move with the door obstructed" after Lalin became trapped.

Ester also provided an update Monday on that investigation. He said the NTSB's investigation remains open and he will provide an update when their final report is issued.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

State House News Service contributed to this report.
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