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Listen to a message from Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser. (mp3)

As part of a three-phased plan to prevent subway track fires like those that disrupted service last week, Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser today recorded a public service announcement that will be heard throughout the MBTA system.

The effort is part of the MBTA’s initiative to strengthen customer service by communicating honestly with riders and making improvements throughout the system. Today’s event followed the announcement Monday that the MBTA will replace outdated maps and signage with new, improved customer-friendly maps.

The two separate fires last week were the direct result of trash being thrown on the tracks and an aging network of electrical cables.  In a letter sent to the T Riders Union late last week, Transportation James A. Aloisi, Jr. and Acting General Manager William Mitchell detailed a three-part plan for addressing these issues.

  • Public Awareness Campaign:  To engage MBTA customers in ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and reliable subway system, the MBTA is launching a public awareness campaign that reminds customers to use the trash and recycling receptacles that are found at all MBTA stations and on every train platform.  Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser will join us in this effort by recording public service announcements that will be heard at every MBTA subway station.
  • Avoiding Trash Build-Up on Tracks: While MBTA train crews are already required to report trash build-up along the tracks, the MBTA is issuing a reminder to all subway employees about the importance of notifying dispatchers so that a clean-up crew will be deployed.  The MBTA is also tightening the protocols for trash pick-up by the MBTA track inspectors who work the overnight shifts while trains are not operating.
  • Action Plan for Upgrading Decades-Old Electrical Cables:  MBTA Power Department personnel have been ordered to thoroughly inspect thousands of feet of electrical cables, and present an action plan for addressing the areas of most immediate concern, along with a long-term solution for preserving the cables in a state of good repair.  The outdated wiring will be upgraded with new, state-of-the-art electrical cables that have a longer life span and produce less smoke if an incident occurs.

A week ago, MBCR (the T’s operator of Commuter Rail service) provided customers with a letter addressing two separate incidents that occurred 15 hours apart.
In the first incident, the quick thinking of an alert train crew prevented an accident when a CSX dispatcher routed an inbound and an outbound train onto the same track between Back Bay and Yawkey Stations.  CSX has been asked for a full report on the incident.
The next morning, an inbound train struck a bumper post at South Station while traveling at low speed.  The engineer, who has a good operating record, acknowledged that he made an error in judgment.  Disciplinary proceedings are underway.

In the letter, MBCR General Manager Richard Davey apologized to customers who may have experienced a delay due to the incidents, and assured them that passenger safety is of paramount concern for MBCR and the MBTA.

He pledged that MBCR and the MBTA will fully-examine all possible factors leading into each event and take any necessary action to enhance the safety of passengers and employees.

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For all queries and comments, please contact Joe Pesaturo.