The NTSB released its analysis of the May, 2008 Green Line collision in Newton. Such is the sorry state of affairs at the MBTA that the mishap must be identified by both date and location so as not to be confused with others recently such as this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one.
The NTSB found that the crash probably occurred because the trolley operator didn’t stop at a red light on the tracks. And the most likely reason the operator didn’t stop was because she didn’t see the red light. And the most likely reason she didn’t see the red light was because she was asleep. And the most likely reason she was asleep was because she had a hidden medical condition that deprived her of sleep. Thus the most likely cause of that unfortunate collision was resolved as thoroughly as it probably ever will be.
But the NTSB made another interesting finding. The red light was broken and stuck on red. The signal was red all the time, even when it should have been yellow or another color. Even more strange, the T did not know about the broken signal because “[MBTA] operating rules do not require that train operators report signals [erroneously] displaying red.”
Accidents happen, and everyone knows that the cash-strapped T relies on antiquated systems. But what about “see something, say something?” When passengers see something suspicious they are supposed to run breathless to a station attendant. And when a conductor notices a piece of essential safety equipment is broken and out of service … silence?