MBTA

Sparks, Smoke at MBTA Station After Wiring Falls on Tracks, Snarling Green Line

Video from riders waiting to board showed loud sparks spitting from the tracks, with customers running from a train

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Smoke and intense sparks were seen at the MBTA's Park Street Station in Boston Sunday after overhead wiring fell onto Green Line tracks near one of the platforms.

No one was hurt, the MBTA said, but Green Line service was suspended between Government Center and Kenmore Square for hours Sunday afternoon and evening, with shuttle buses replacing trolley service.

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Video from riders waiting to board showed loud sparks spitting from the tracks, with customers running from a train.

"Some of the people inside thought they were gunshots," said Arthur Mansavage, who filmed the incident. After Mansavage noticed something strange about the Green Line train arriving at Park Street Station, he took out his phone and started filming.

"I'm actually kind of surprised that no one was hurt," Mansavage continued. "...There was a huge crowd by the sparks."

The fallen wiring, just east of the station on the westbound track, didn't cause a fire, according to an MBTA representative. Red Line service at Park Street wasn't affected.

By 10 p.m., MBTA officials announced that service resumed at the seven affected stations.

Although no one was injured, the incident left many commuters frightened, with many only ever hearing about issues with the T, but never experiencing it themselves.

Mansavage, a freshman at Emerson College originally from Indiana had only been on the T three times, and he says that after his encounter at Park Street Station on Sunday, it might have been his last.

"I don't want to get caught on fire," said Mansavage. "Those were some pretty big sparks and a lot of smoke. I'm probably not going to take it if I don't need to anymore."

"Before this incident I never thought it would happen," said a rider named Rutuja. "But now this thing is in mind so I'll be careful... the fear is on our mind."

The aftermath of the incident was seen by other witnesses at the station as well, as smoke filled the underground platform.

"...I've never experienced that in person, and it's just so scary that it could happen to anyone," said Asiyah Mumeni, who saw the smoke in the station. "And it's just so scary that it could happen to anyone. Like, I could've left like an hour early and it could've happened to me, and that's really scary."

The trouble so many commuters have had with the T has left others feeling a comical resignation to the latest incident.

"It's the T!" said Jodi Carrigan, while laughing. "It's the T!"

Federal officials have released a scathing report on the MBTA.

The incident on Sunday is reminiscent of numerous examples of structural inadequacy reported on by the Federal Transit Administration this August. The scathing FTA report made multiple criticisms of the MBTA's lack of safety oversight in their stations, which the FTA said could be improved by teaching MBTA employees how to identify safety concerns in stations.

The FTA report in August also criticized Gov. Charlie Baker's administration for prioritizing major capital projects, instead of prioritizing the day-to-day maintenance and service of the MBTA.

At its current staffing levels, the T does not have enough workers available to simultaneously run its desired level of subway service, keep the system in sufficient shape, and fulfill the goals outlined in its multi-year capital plan, the FTA said.

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