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Starts & Stops

Apprehension after fatal T crash

An MBTA train crashed into another on the Green Line on May 28, killing operator Ter'rese Edmonds. An MBTA train crashed into another on the Green Line on May 28, killing operator Ter'rese Edmonds. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/file)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Noah Bierman
June 8, 2008

Vanessa Medeiros is apprehensive about getting on a subway or trolley again.

The 37-year-old from Franklin was on the Green Line trolley that was hit from behind on May 28 - a crash that killed operator Ter'rese Edmonds. Medeiros remembers the screaming and the trauma that night as her plans for a casual dinner with friends in Newton were turned into a far more serious affair. When she mustered the courage to board her regular commuter rail train to work last week, she had a panic attack.

She acknowledges that her feelings are tied into the uneasy sense that someone else is in control of her safety.

But what about the rest of us? Should we fear public transportation following one of the worst transit accidents in recent MBTA history?

The numbers say no. Even with several memorable trolley crashes in recent years, driving a car is still more dangerous.

Last month's crash in Newton was rare in that someone died. But there are thousands of fatal car crashes each year.

In 2006, 44,912 people died in American transportation-related accidents, according to the most recent federal statistics. Of those, 13 died while using light rail systems such as the Green Line. Thirty-two people died on subways and 27 on buses - including school, intercity, and local transit.

The vast majority - 30,521 victims - died in cars or light trucks. That doesn't include motorcycle riders and pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars, which also number well into the thousands.

Meanwhile, gas prices are prompting many to contemplate the switch to public transit.

Joe Pesaturo, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman, said worries should be allayed because the investigation has already determined that the equipment, tracks, and signals worked correctly.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation is expected to take 12 to 18 months. In past cases involving MBTA vehicles, recommendations have gone beyond equipment. The federal agency has recommended more worker training and better drug- and alcohol-testing policies. The NTSB may also look at the degree to which the Green Line is susceptible to human error. (Newer subway lines - Blue, Orange, and Red - automatically stop trains that run red signals.)

Cabs pass on Fast Lane
Many people who have taken a taxi cab inbound from Logan International Airport are shocked when the cabbie gets to the tollbooth and waits in the cash lane.

How could a cabbie want to waste time and gas in the slow lane? Drivers earn more when the wheels are spinning than they do in a line, spitting out fumes from their gas guzzlers. And customers get annoyed.

Boston cabdrivers, however, have been required to have the Fast Lane pass - which they get for free - since 2006, so they can quickly pay tolls electronically. But state transportation officials estimate that only 20 percent of taxis have been using them.

Taxi driver Bob Turner said many drivers do not have a credit card to set up accounts and must go through an onerous process that requires leaving a big cash deposit with the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the owner of their cab company.

The Massachusetts Port Authority is installing machines this summer at the airport taxi pool that will make it easier for cabbies to deposit smaller amounts of cash into their transponder accounts without a credit card.

Last week, police began waiting at the airport tollbooths, handing out warnings to cabdrivers. Multiple warnings will cost drivers a one- to five-day suspension of their taxi license.

With hope, it won't come to that. As of Monday evening, after the enforcement was announced, 77 cabbies had applied for Fast Lane passes. Police handed out 100 warnings Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Can't get there...

  • Two or three lanes of Interstate 93 south approaching and through downtown will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow through Friday.
  • I-93 south in the vicinity of Sullivan Square will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The onramps to I-93 south from Mystic Avenue will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The Storrow Drive onramp to I-93 south will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • The Haymarket onramp to I-93 south and the Callahan Tunnel will be closed from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.
  • The exit ramp from I-93 south to Government Center and the Callahan Tunnel (Exits 24A and 24B) will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow and Tuesday.
  • I-93 south Exit 23, to Purchase Street, will be closed from 11:30 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.
  • I-93 south Exit 20B, to Interstate 90 west (the Massachusetts Turnpike), will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow and Tuesday.
  • I-93 south Exit 20A, to South Station, and Exit 20B, to I-90 west and Albany Street, will be closed from 11:30 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday.
  • The Essex Street onramp to I-93 south will be closed from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.
  • Two or three lanes of I-93 north through downtown and Charlestown will be closed from 11:30 p.m. today to 5 a.m. tomorrow and from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow night through Friday.
  • I-93 north Exit 26, to Storrow Drive, will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
  • The Sumner Tunnel onramp to I-93 north will be closed from 1:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow night through Thursday.
  • The Haymarket onramp to I-93 north will be closed from 1:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow night through Thursday.
  • The ramp at I-93 north Exit 20, to I-90 east,will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. today through Tuesday.
  • The I-90 east high-occupancy-vehicle tunnel to Logan International Airport will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. June 15.
  • Lanes on I-90 in South Boston to the Ted Williams Tunnel will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow through Friday.
  • Access from Frontage Road and Albany Street to I-90 east and Logan will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. today through Tuesday.
  • Two lanes on I-90 west, just west of Interchange 19, will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow through Thursday.
  • The Albany Street onramp to I-90 west will be closed from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. tomorrow and Tuesday.
  • Lanes on I-90 west in South Boston from the Ted Williams Tunnel to the Prudential Tunnel will be closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. today and Thursday.
  • Sections of I-90 east and west from the I-90/I-93 Interchange in Boston to the New York State line will be under construction from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays for several months.
  • The four lanes on Washington Street and Harrison Avenue will be reduced to two on the newly constructed bridge deck.
  • Lanes on I-90 east and west near the Prudential Tunnel near Exit 22 to the I-90/I-93 Interchange will be closed from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. today through Thursday.
  • Lanes on I-90 east and west near the Sheraton in Newton will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. today through Thursday.
  • The Congress Street onramp to I-93 south and I-90 west will be closed from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.
  • The Sumner Tunnel onramp to Storrow Drive ill be closed from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
  • The Sumner Tunnel onramp to Government Center and the Haymarketarea will be closed from 11:30 p.m. tomorrow to 5 a.m. Tuesday.
  • Amtrak service on Track 3 between Providence and Boston will be suspended June 14-17.
  • All Providence commuter rail trains will operate on Track 2 between Canton Junction and Mansfield June 14-15.
  • The Ruggles commuter rail station will be closed June 14-15.
  • Hyde Park Station will be closed to all commuter rail traffic June 14-15. All trains scheduled to stop at Hyde Park will stop at Readville.
  • Trains on the Needham, Franklin, and Providence lines will be delayed from 10 to 15 minutes June 14.
  • Trains on the Franklin and Providence line will be delayed 10 to 15 minutes June 15.
  • The Longfellow Bridge's west sidewalk is closed indefinitely.

    Please send complaints, comments, or story ideas to starts@globe.com. The column can be found at boston.com/starts. Globe correspondent Sarah M. Gantz contributed to this report.

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