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Explosions, fire on an Orange Line train on bridge over Mystic River; passengers kick out windows to escape

Orange Line train on fire

As passengers stand on bridge, train keeps smoking. Photo by Jay Bernard.

Update: MBTA says metal strip came loose from train and then into contact with the third rail.

The first car of an older inbound Orange Line train suffered an explosion, then burst into flames on the bridge over the Mystic River just before Assembly this morning, sending panicked riders onto the bridge while the third rail was still live. One rider jumped into the river; came out OK.

Jennifer Thomson-Sullivan, who was in the first car and who took video of the escape around 6:45 a.m., reports:

Explosions on first car followed by flames surrounding the car. People freaked, flames started engulfing and moving toward us. Emergency exit wouldn’t open so guy next to me kicked out window. People started jumping out, not even considering active third rail.

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Comments

When do the old cars get pulled for inspection?

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significantly different from any other Orange Line car in service.

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I’m so glad Baker “fixed” the T.

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Or maybe a special commission this time.

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...is moving more operating funds to the capital budget.

At this point, we're having what, about one serious safety incident a week? We're in uncharted territory but how long before the Feds issue some order that renders a whole line (or the whole system) completely shut down. Feel like it's coming.

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Moving operating funds to capitol was one of the things the FTA dinged the T for.

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for their collective pet projects, ideas, and pork, they should be investing in this critical infrastructure. If economic development and recovery are the objectives, then help out the majority of T riders who have no alternative. The same people will be paying $5 per gallon for heating oil in another 8 weeks. Perhaps there could have been some money set aside for fuel assistance.

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The legislature will hold a hearing!

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Cuz it's not Charlie's fault !

They basically blamed her for a once in 100 years weather event, and all the things that have subsequently gone wrong on Charlie's watch prove the point that it's the chronic lack of support from the Commonwealth that has brought us to this.

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Doesn’t seem like he ever even tried. From my perspective his actions look a lot more like he was trying to create a justification for privatization through deliberate mismanagement and under funding, which is a well established tactic of neoliberalism.

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Nobody, and I mean nobody outside of a few crazed libertarian think tanks believes in privatized public transit. What is Baker's plan for a private MBTA, and how is it to be funded?

As for neoliberalism, do you know what that even means? Hint: it has nothing to do with regional transportation planning.

As for neoliberalism, do you know what that even means?

Do you? It's got everything to do with privatization, deregulation, and "free markets."

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"nobody outside of a few crazed libertarian think tanks"

I have some potentially interesting news for you about MBTA GM Steve Poftak's previous gig...........

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Because it is going off a fiscal cliff and will never be able to reach pre-pandemic ridership levels because of fires, crime, delays, no fare enforcement and a surge of anti-social behavior.

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Freeing the T should end all fare evasion and budget issues.

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While they're at it, how about world peace and an end to the climate crisis? Also, some decent food in T stations. Dunks sucks.

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Sarcastic. Well aware Wu’s magic money tree is really everyone elses bank account.

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Heaven forbid you to pay $2.00 more a year so that everyone, including you, can use a fully-functional subway and bus system without having to pay money at the time of boarding.

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Still amounts to a lot less than what fares bring in each year.

But sure, we'll increase direct state aid to the T by $14 million and somehow try to figure out how to make the T run safely and frequently without that additional $250 or so million dollars that riders pay in fares. It will work out great, no?

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$2/yr was not a CPA calculation to go fare-free.

Again, you don't need as much revenue if you also don't have to pay to collect revenue and police people paying revenue, etc. So, it's not just a matter of "amounting to what fares bring in each year".

But whatever the averaged costs over all taxpayers in the state, it doesn't amount to anything meaningful...which is what the "$2" I used was meant to represent, not the exact pre-destined number that would actually happen.

It's the same thing with healthcare. You don't just add up how much America pays for healthcare and say "well, divide that by all the taxpayers and you'd have to raise my taxes like $100,000 dollars a year!". Properties of scale, reduced costs, etc.

They are not spending $250 million (btw, the actual fare numbers are higher, but I didn't want to get bogged down in that) on fare collection only to get $2 per resident a year's worth of revenue.

As I've been saying for as long as my prominent neighbor has been proposing it, show me a practical plan to fund the T without a third of it's current revenue, and I'll support it. Until then, people are asking for the T to do more with a lot less, which is a recipe for disaster.

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Part of what this crisis shows is that fares are not an adequate funding mechanism for essential services. Fare should be eliminated, and a funding instead coming from taxes either on the most fossil fuel intensive forms of transit, on the biggest polluters, and/or on the wealthy in general.

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The current funding mechanism is: fares + 20% of sales tax + any supplemental appropriation = MBTA budget

Your statement relies on the idea that the legislature would fully fund a properly sized budget. But they already aren't willing to do that. What makes you think they'd do it if fares were eliminated? The only real solution for achieving more transit funding is better and more persistent advocacy.

Corporations/institutions benefit the most from public transport.

It’s the T that delivers both their workforce and their clientele to their front doors. Fidelity, Dunkin, every hospital, every university, Boston Garden, the Red Sox, Legal Sea Foods…you name it.

Ditch the new $1 billion fare collection system and use those who benefit the most from the T to fund the system.

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Charlie Baker 6-3-22

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he didn't start it.

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Especially to shrubs when drunk driving

Where buildings are falling down, MBTA trains are blowing up, and we're still going ahead and getting ready to host the Olympics...I need a drink

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Smoooke on the waaterr

It's evident to anyone with eyes that the T could not be bothered maintaining the old cars since the pandemic started. They're now regularly running trains with entire cars disabled for various reasons and the trains just look unsafe. Lucky riders get to choose between exploding batteries in the new trains and trains that temporarily break down between stations and catch fire I guess.

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…in arrival announcements: “The next train to Forest Hills is now arriving with new Orange Line cars!”

Judging from the way the fire flares up in the video, the train was still electrified after Gosselin started recording. How long does it take the MBTA to turn off the power, assuming the driver promptly reported it to dispatch?

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You do realize that windows are emergency exits on trains?

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To state the obvious, this is going to do nothing to improve ridership on the T. Who wants to take the risk?

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Even with all these high profile accidents riding the T is not as safe as it should be but it is still far safer than driving. And as the article I linked asks What if We Held Transit and Traffic to the Same Safety Standards? Cars catch on fire all the time in metro Boston, they also kill far more pedestrians (and people driving cars), and cause a lot more injury. For some reason it is hardly ever reported on in a similar way, dangerous roads aren’t immediately shut down or highly limited for redesigns (when they are redesigned it usually drags on for years), cars which are statistically more likely to kill are not recalled and forced to be redesigned.

To be clear I am not saying the T doesn’t need to get its act together, it clearly fucking does. But the risk is not higher on the T than in a car.

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The T is still safer than driving. facts over feelings.

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So you are telling me for a fact this will have no affect on T ridership?

And the risk I mentioned is not safety, but actually getting to your location in a reasonably amount of time. No one was injured in today's incident, but 100% of the people on the train were late to their destination.

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It's so-you-are-telling-me person!

So you are telling me for a fact this will have no affect on T ridership?

They said nothing remotely like that. Please, sweep up your straw.

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Now it is a strawman?

So you are telling me for a fact this will have no affect on T ridership?

This was your response to a statement that did not say, "for a fact" or any other way, that "this will have no affect on T ridership". That's a strawman. Look it up.

You’re exhausting

You're a lightweight.

“It’s shocking, but not shocking at the same time… “It’s awful, but it’s kind of our daily life in Boston taking the train I guess.”

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Let alone jump into the river. Just walk through the other cars that weren't exploding or in fire down to the last.

It's easy to say not being on a train car where you've just heard explosions and the car starts to fill with smoke and all.

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The incident looks like it might be like the train fire a few years ago north of Wellington. In that incident, a metal sign got caught between the third-rail shoe on the car and the third-rail. That caused an electrical short, which in turn set the wooden beam the third-rail shoe is mounted to on fire. The heat from that then caused the air bag (the air suspension) to explode, resulting in a ball of fire (like pricking a balloon with a match). Luckily, even the older cars are made from fire resistent material, so once the oxygen from the air bag is released in a fire ball, it will burn out the rubber air bag (which causes the heavy black smoke) but won't spread into the interior of the car. But obviously, the average person is not going to know all that and will want to escape as soon as possible.

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The quote from one of the evacuees was that the emergency exit wouldn't open, and flames started moving into in the car.

In a sane universe, these doors would be tested weekly (the doors between trains); it's a simple inspector walking through the train, from front cab to rear, opening each door, passing through, and closing. On a schedule. One guy, one hour, every morning, walking through trains, and tagging those on today's schedule that need the doors fixed before they're dispatched. And maybe, at the end of their shift, repeating the walkthrough to test the repaired trains.

But in a sane universe, maintenance is not a dirty word. Don't you LOVE living in Bizarro Universe?

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What heresy is this?

My dad was an inspector for an airline (holding all the licenses, A, P, A&P). His job was to be the first guy in and last guy out of a plane in for overhaul, or for the section (later, specifically, widebody powerplants) of a plane his overhaul crew was responsible for.

Line inspectors do this at airports during turnarounds. Check all the orifices to see if they open/close like they're supposed to. Often just peering over the shoulders of the line crew refueling, checking the hydraulics and the tires, etc. The guy with the clipboard (nowadays, tablet).

It was a union job, and note, the planes didn't fall out of the sky. And they still don't, which tells you this kind of scheduled check works.

This is not a stupid suggestion; I suspect the Feds are going to require hiring inspectors to do this damn job.

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Which is why they won't do it.

Considering the frequency with which those emergency doors used to fly open mid ride, I also would have never expected one of them to be stuck.

The worker assigned to check doors would just lay down on a seat and take a nap for an hour instead.

Can passengers on exploding train cars sue the T?

New video shows a person in the water after an Orange Line train broke down and started smoking over the Mystic River.

https://twitter.com/robwaytv/status/1550099797201371136?s=21&t=eykDPeSkY...

Per @RobWayTV

From the Globe

“An unidentified female passenger jumped off the bridge into the river,” said Somerville Fire Chief Charles Breen in a phone interview with the Globe. “Our marine boat happened to be in the river for training and was on scene immediately. The woman refused to get into the boat. She was provided a life jacket and proceeded to swim to shore … then she walked away.”

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Maybe she's a good swimmer. Or even an average one; she was only about 200 feet from shore, at most. Maybe she didn't want to make a big deal out of it. If it was me, I would have done the same thing. But then, I'm male, so I could hope that people would think I was being rugged and manly, not hysterical.

I might be in a "to hell with vehicles" mood at that moment too.

It's like there is no one in charge of the MBTA. You'd think after a series of embarrassing stories, something would change. Technically something did change, just for the worse.

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Yeah, they need to put someone in charge who can lay down the law and tell these old trains, “Hey, no fires before you’re scrapped!”

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In case you haven't noticed, there doesn't seem to be anyone much in charge of ANYTHING anymore. And the ones that are have completely risen to the level of their incompetence.

According to the Globe it was a woman who jumped into the Mystic.

(and you’re welcome for the Van Morrison earworm).

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