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Transit Advocates Ask for Transparency From MBTA in Red Line Dragging Death

The death of 39-year-old Robinson Lalin, whose arm was stuck in the door of a Red Line train before it dragged him, is under investigation, but watchdog groups say the MBTA needs to be more forthcoming with information

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The investigation into the tragic dragging death of a man on the Red Line has revealed few answers publicly, and watchdog groups say the MBTA needs to be more forthcoming.

The MBTA has remained quiet about the sequence of events that led to the death of 39-year-old Robinson Lalin, whose arm became stuck in a door before a train took off from the Broadway stop.

"Even if this is a one-off incident, it is alarming that we don't have more information at this point," said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the transportation advocacy group LivableStreets Alliance. "Many things had to go wrong for something this tragic to occur, and so I want to understand every step that went wrong, and I want to understand what the T is doing to make sure this never happens again."

"I think it's appropriate for them not to say anything until they have the ability to actually answer a lot of the questions people have," Gov. Charlie Baker said.

Jarred Johnson, executive director of TransitMatters, a watchdog group, says doors are supposed to retract and alert the train operator if something is impeding the doors.

"I think there were multiple missteps here that led to this incident," said Johnson.

Johnson says the MBTA's Board of Directors, mostly appointed by the governor, needs to move away from its hands-off approach and get more involved in overseeing the system, especially when it comes to safety.

"I think this is something where it really demands them to lean in on this," said Johnson.

An MBTA spokesperson says the doors are supposed to stay open for as long as it takes for customers to board and exit the train, and passengers are always cautioned against using hands, arms and legs to prevent a door from closing. There are emergency stop mechanisms on board and an intercom system for passengers to reach the operator, but it's unknown if there were any passengers on board when the fatal incident took place.

The train operator, who was hired in 2018, is off duty amid the investigation, the MBTA said.

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