Elevators and Escalators Have Long Been Out of Order at Westwood Train Station


escalatorCommuting is a major stress in the Boston area. Having to ride the MBTA should ease the burden. But it often just adds anxiety, especially for commuters at the Route 128/University Station in Westwood.

Two news stories have put the spotlight back on the long-running equipment and system problems at the Westwood station, including out-of-service elevators and escalators. Offering both MBTA and Amtrak train service, the Westwood station serves half a million commuters each year. When systems are running on time, you can take the MBTA into Boston in less than a half hour. The MBTA also offers service to Providence or Amtrak provides travel beyond Rhode Island.

With over 2,500 spaces, the Westwood station is also one of the rare MBTA stops where you can still find a parking space. The problem is walking through the station.

The station is owned by Amtrak, which has frequently closed escalators and elevators over the past few years. One of the two elevators has been out of service altogether for several years. They are in no condition to re-open. According to a recent NBC Boston report, every escalator and elevator has expired state certifications. NBC Boston first reported on the station three years ago, so this isn’t a new story. It is just one which has grown worse.

Amtrak says it has no responsibility to make repairs, citing federal law which exempts it from meeting all state and local building regulations. State officials say they have met with Amtrak, to no avail.

Failure to maintain the escalators and elevators creates a safety hazard for commuters and puts an extra burden on the handicapped. NBC Boston interviewed a rider who was legally blind and spoke about having to climb the Westwood station’s tall staircases. As a result, he has missed his special needs van on some days.

We need to learn from past tragedies on escalators and elevators, including the fall that killed 4-year-old Mark DiBona in 2011. The child fell from a defective second-floor escalator at the Auburn Mall. The escalator had a 6 inch gap, which exceeded state regulations. Lawyers for the boy’s family said the escalator management company was aware of the gap and had filed plans with the town to fix it. But the company never followed up. The little boy suffered a head injury in the fall and died the next day.

Hopefully, the state, MBTA and Amtrak will reach agreement on the much needed repairs at the Westwood station soon. All three have a responsibility to the public and commuters. But it’s also important because another public safety concern has recently arisen at the station.

After a long day in Boston, every commuter just wants to get home. Over the past year, the rush has gotten worse at the Westwood station. Some commuters are now running to their cars to beat traffic backups and 20-minute delays leaving the station.

The traffic backups are a new development. Drivers used to have two choices to pay for parking. They could pay inside the station with their credit card or they could simply drive through the parking garage exit. The parking fee would be deducted from their car’s EZPass. Now, the MBTA requires drivers to stop at the parking exit and select how they want to pay. Meanwhile, traffic lines up and pedestrians are put at risk.

WBZ’s I-Team reported on the parking garage earlier this month. The MBTA said the new system has reduced duplicate charges, resulting in fewer refunds. But things need to change at the Westwood station before there is a serious pedestrian accident.

If you see a safety hazard in any MBTA station, we encourage you to take a photo with your cell phone and report it. You can also report equipment that is out of service for a long period of time.

We suggest reporting the problem to at least two offices – the MBTA and the local police department. A local police department can log your complaint immediately while the MBTA or MBTA police may not respond for a few days.

You can also try submitting complaints to the town officials in the community where the MBTA station is located. Try the local building department, the Board of Selectmen or City Council office. Other resources are the state Department of Transportation, your state representative and your local regional transportation agency. These offices may not be directly responsible for a train or bus station, but it may help to keep them aware of ongoing transportation and safety issues.

Here are a few links:

MBTA Customer Support. This page gives you the option to upload a photo.

Regional Public Transportation Authorities in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck are experts in handling claims involving premises liability and injuries caused by defective property conditions. If you have been injured by someone’s failure to maintain their property, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Scheme at the MBTA Results in Buses Going Uninspected

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has concluded a three month investigation into a scheme resulting in 200 buses not receiving inspections for mechanical problems and routine maintenance services. The MBTA provides public transportation services to Massachusetts residents throughout the Greater Boston area.

At the close of the investigation, 13 managers were fired for falsifying the mileage records of 200 buses to avoid scheduled inspections. Six other managers received three day suspensions for lesser roles in the scheme. Unless additional information becomes known, the MBTA does not anticipate terminating any other individuals. 

According to MBTA General Manager Richard Davey, the MBTA has mostly caught up with the inspection backlog. Officials also stated that the deferred inspections did not cause any known safety problems or accidents because bus drivers visually inspect the buses before use. The MBTA requires bus inspections every 6000 miles. According to reports, some of the affected 200 buses went over 35,000 miles without inspections.

An anonymous terminated superintendent is claiming that the disciplined managers are taking the fall for a widely recognized policy of pushing off routine inspections and were reacting to pressure from higher management to keep buses in service. He says he is considering legal action against the MBTA.  The terminated superintendent says it is common within the MBTA to treat serious issues immediately but postpone the scheduled inspections if the buses were needed for service due to emergencies or track repairs and that management was aware of this policy.

State Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan said several government departments have been notified about the inspection issue and the agency is reviewing whether any criminal or civil laws have been violated by the false records or missed inspections.

For more information on the MBTA inspection issue, see this Boston Globe article. 

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MBTA Refuses to Add Key Safety System to Prevent Injuries to Passengers

Despite recent accidents, the MBTA continues to maintain that the automated operating systems that have been very successful at preventing accidents in other parts of the country are an unnecessary expense for the citizens of Boston. It is no secret that these systems could have prevented two serious rear end crashes on the Green Line in the last year alone. These systems would virtually eliminate driver error by automatically stopping trolleys from running red lights or getting dangerously close to other trolley cars. While some MBTA officials have argued that the safety systems would not be a good allocation of funds, recent events have made it fiscally irresponsible for these delays in adequate safety to continue.

 There have been five crashes since 2007, and the most recent crash will cost the agency more than 10 million dollars in property damage and the medical claims of the victims. The crash on May 8th near government center epitomized the need for the system upgrades as nearly 50 peoples were admitted to the hospital as a result of their injuries sustained in the crash. The accident appears to be the result of carelessness by the operator who was text messaging at the time. This is the exact type of accident that would have been avoided with this proven technology in place.

This is hardly the first time that the safety regulations at MBTA have been brought into question. Last year, following the death of MBTA operator Ter’rese Edmonds, former MBTA engineer John Weiser could not hold back his criticisms of the way MBTA is falling behind the safety standards followed by their peers in other parts of the country. Weiser, who personally investigated more than a dozen crashes and more than 1,200 derailments during his twenty-six years of service to the MBTA, argued that the lack of modern equipment was directly responsible for the injuries sustained by its patrons. The Boston Globe quoted Weiser as saying “…from a safety point of view, had the T installed positive train stops, when the train went through the red light, the brakes would automatically be applied.”

Implementation of the new safety measures in other cities has been very successful. One example of this is San Francisco. The Muni Metro in San Francisco was experiencing many of the same problems in 1998 that Boston is dealing with now. After a week of the new system, even initial critics of the state spending were glad to have the automated system in place. Not only were the trains safer, but they were actually able to reduce the time between trains for their customers. Instead of two minutes or more between trians the automated system was able to run them every minute. Since the inception of this safety precaution in 1998 there has not been a single rear end crash. It is past time for the MBTA to invest in the safety of its system to protect its passengers.

For More Information

Trolley safety system put off The Boston Globe May 25, 2009

Safety review ordered after Boston trolley crash Associated Press May 27, 2009

Safety Review Ordered After Boston Trolley Crash Associated Press May 26, 2009

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MBTA Green Line Crash Caused by Texting Operator–Scores Injured in Boston Tunnel Accident

Two MBTA Green Line trolleys collided in the tunnel near Park Street Station in Boston, and the accident is being blamed on the operator of the train who was texting his girlfriend while driving. His recklessness forced the train he hit 100 feet down the tunnel, derailed both trains, and injured dozens of passengers on both trains.

The train crash occurred at about 7:18 PM, and the westbound trolley cars were full of commuters headed home and families headed to the Red Sox game. Dozens of people were taken to area hospitals, some with orthopedic injuries.

According to investigators, the first trolley, which consisted of two cars, was stopped at a red signal short of the station. The second trolley, which also had two cars, rear-ended the stopped train. The 24-year-old driver was looking at his cell phone, texting his girlfriend, and when he looked up it was too late to stop. Investigators have not yet determined the speed of the train.

MBTA drivers are forbidden to use cell phones or to text while driving. According to T General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, the driver will probably be fired (we hope so!), and he may also face criminal charges.

The MBTA will be held liable for the injuries sustained by the passenges on the trains. The T is vicariously liable for the negligence of its operators, and operator negligence seems extremely clear in this case. As a common carrier, the MBTA has a high duty of care to its passengers to prevent accidents.

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Death of 82-Year-Old Woman in MBTA Escalator Accident in Boston Investigated

An 82-year-old woman has died following an escalator accident at the MBTA State Street Station in Boston. According to initial reports, the woman fell on the escalator and her clothing became entangled in the machinery.

The accident is being investigated by the MBTA, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, which is in charge of escalator inspections, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

According to news reports, the woman, who was traveling to an eye appointment on the MBTA, was riding the escalator up from the platform. She was near the top of the escalator when she apparently fell, and her clothing became tangled in the escalator machinery. News reports also indicate that she suffered a heart attack, but it is not clear whether that heart attack was before or as a result of the accident.

MBTA escalators have been the cause of accidents and wrongful death in the past. An East Boston man died on an MBTA escalator when his sweatshirt hood got caught in an escalator in Cambridge. A three-year-old boy suffered severe leg injuries on the old Aquarium Blue Line stop’s escalator in Boston. Several people were injured in a Back Bay escalator accident when the escalator suddenly stopped, hurling the passengers down the stairs. The Aquarium T escalator, and the escalators at Back Bay have frequent scenes of accidents.

Escalator inspections are conducted by the state each year, and the escalator involved was reportedly also inspected each week and maintained on a monthly basis. The record of this escalator has not yet been made public.

Common Causes of Escalator Accidents

Escalators are large powerful machines, and riders take for granted that they are designed and maintained for safe operation. Some types of escalator accidents are common, however.

  • Missing teeth in the comb plates cause entrapment of shoes with severe foot injuries
  • Contact with the side of the escalator can cause injuries to feet and legs when body parts get caught. These injuries are most common in children
  • Sudden stops caused by machinery failure can pitch riders down the the metal stairs
  • Sudden speeding-up or slowing-down can also cause people to fall on escalators
  • Entanglement of clothing in gaps in the machinery can involve shoe laces, clothing, backpacks, and even shoes themselves. For example, there has been an increase in accidents reported in children wearing Croc rubber sandals.

Thousands of people are treated each year for escalator injuries and deaths, many of which result of the negligent maintenance of escalators, or the defective design of the machinery itself.

Additional Resources

Crocs Can Pose Danger on Escalators, ABC News

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Boston Jury Finds MBTA Liable in $3.98 Million Verdict for Injured Pedestrian

A Suffolk Superior Court jury today awarded $3.98 million to a South End woman who was run over by an MBTA bus on September 13, 2005. The verdict, with interest, will result in a judgment over $5.4 million for Rita Traybman, who lost her right leg when it was crushed by the bus. She was run over while crossing the street in a crosswalk.

The verdict is believed to be one of the largest ever in Massachusetts for an injury of this kind.

Ms. Traybman’s lawyer, Boston attorney Marc L. Breakstone, who has handled several bus accident and train accident cases against the MBTA, said, “This verdict will help Ms. Traybman cope with the terrible injuries she sustained. She will be able to obtain appropriate housing and medical care for her life-long disability.”  Mr. Breakstone is a member of the personal injury law firm Breakstone, White & Gluck, PC, in Boston, MA.

The incident occurred when Ms. Traybman was struck from behind in the crosswalk at the corner of Washington Street and East Newton Street in Boston. The 58-year-old woman was crossing the street with the “Walk” signal when she was struck.

Mr. Breakstone explained, “Ms. Traybman suffered the loss of her right leg and she continues to suffer daily from extreme pain known as phantom limb pain. Her disabilities make her dependent on others for much of her basic care.”

Plaintiff presented evidence at trial that the bus driver failed to check for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and that he made an improper turn in violation of MBTA guidelines. The jury found that the bus driver was 100% at fault for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.

Plaintiff also presented evidence that she would need continuing care to make her apartment more wheelchair accessible, and to provide for the care she needs around the clock. Ms. Traybman suffers not only from the phantom limb pain, but from pain in her shoulders and elbows which further impair her mobility.

Prior to trial the MBTA made no offer of settlement, despite the fact that its driver admitted the accident was his fault; despite the fact that the MBTA police and internal investigations also confirmed the accident was the driver’s fault; and despite the severe injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Instead, the MBTA forced the case to trial.

Ms. Traybman immigrated to the United States from Ukraine and lived independently prior to the accident.

Mr. Breakstone had previously thanked the Suffolk County jury, which heard nine days of testimony and deliberated for two days. 

Listen to the WBZ 1030 podcast interview with Marc Breakstone.


The law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck, PC, specializes in the representation of injured persons, including pedestrians who have suffered personal injuries.

MBTA D-Line Trolley Cars Collide in Newton, MA; Several Injuries and One Death Reported

UPDATE: Breakstone, White & Gluck will be representing the most seriously injured passenger from this accident. Please check our news page for more information on the suit filed for this MBTA accident case.

ORIGINAL BLOG: A serious crash involving two MBTA D Line trolleys on May 28th has left the
operator of the second train dead, and dozens of passengers injured and hospitalized. The accident happened as the commuter trains were approaching the Woodland Station in Newton. The first two-car trolley was stopped at a red signal when it was rear-ended by the second two-car train.

Both Green Line trains were packed with evening rush-hour commuters, heading home at about 6:00 PM. Passengers were thrown to the floor. Several were treated on a nearby golf course; several were taken by ambulance to area hospitals with serious injuries; one was taken by MedFlight to the trauma center at Boston Medical Center. Many other passengers found their way to hospitals on their own.

Both of the smashed MBTA trains were derailed by the impact. Reports indicate that some passengers were thrown as much as 20 feet inside the cars.
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Serious MBTA Commuter Rail Accident on Stoughton Line Injures 150 Passengers

UPDATE (4/18/08): The MBTA has filed suit against CSX Transportation and Cohenno lumber company of Stoughton, Massachusetts. The suit alleges that the runaway freight car did not have its hand brakes set, that chocks were not in place, that lumber yard were moving the car improperly, and that the derailing devices were not properly used on the tracks. As a result, the fully loaded freight car, weighing approximately
112 tons, left the yard and traveled approximately three miles before striking the commuter train with hundreds aboard. The accident injured around 150 passengers.

The MBTA claims that the crash as cost it over $1 million in property damage and overtime expenses. Passengers who suffered personal injuries are not part of this case.


Boston Globe April 18, 2008

ORIGINAL BLOG: It looks like an alert train engineer acted quickly and helped reduce what could have been an even more serious accident on the MBTA Stoughton commuter rail line on March 25th. According to news reports, the evening commuter train was outbound from Boston with approximately 600 passengers. A track signal warned that a car was on the tracks ahead, and the engineer was able to stop the train. However, he was not able to avoid the collision with the runaway freight car which hit the engine head-on.

At least 150 people were injured in the train accident. It has been reported that the injuries were not serious, except for the engineer. Standing passengers were thrown to the floor. Cuts from
head injuries were common, people suffered broken noses, facial cuts, twisted ankles, neck injuries, and back injuries. Passengers were dazed from the impact. Area ambulance crews and local emergency rooms were overwhelmed.

The cause of the accident appears to be a runaway freight car loaded with lumber. News reports indicate that the freight car was parked at a lumber yard. It apparently rolled from the yard, and
had sufficient momentum to roll for miles down the track before colliding with the train.

The cause of the accident is under investigation, but this much is known. When a freight car is left at a customer yard on a track spur or siding, it needs to be parked and secured properly.
Three things are required: the hand brakes must be set, the wheels must be block (or “chocked”), and a derailing device must be placed to prevent the car from leaving the yard. Somehow, despite these safety requirements, the heavy freight car did enter the main train line and cause the crash.

If the MBTA commuter rail train had not stopped before the crash, the accident would have been much more severe.As it was, the commuters reported that it felt like the train had “hit a wall.”

News Stories
Freight car rams commuter train, injuring 150, Boston Globe, March 26, 2008

Scores injured in Canton commuter rail crash, Boston Herald, March 26, 2006

If you need a lawyer to handle your MBTA train accident case, please contact us toll free at 1-800-379-1244, or use the contact form on this page. The lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have decades of experience in handling passenger accident cases. For more information
on choosing a train accident attorney, visit our page on Personal Injuries Caused by Train Accidents.