Commuting 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.
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.
For the fifth year, the Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee had one of the busiest tables at Westwood Town Day, which was held on Saturday, Sept. 23 this year. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated 150 bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign and sent Attorney David W. White out to help fit helmets for the kids. Attorney White is a Westwood resident, former committee member and cyclist so he had a blast. Thank you to all the committee members for donating their time.
Children age 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle in Massachusetts. Breakstone, White & Gluck recommends cyclists of all ages wear helmets every time you ride to protect yourself from a head injury. If you are a parent, your children are more likely to wear a helmet if you do, so it is even more important. Learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign.
Breakstone, White & Gluck cares about bicycle safety in Boston and across Massachusetts. Over the past four years, our attorneys have donated brand-new bicycle helmets to children who need one through our Project KidSafe campaign.
Wearing a helmet is the most effective step a cyclist can take to prevent a brain injury in a car accident or fall on a bicycle. While important for all cyclists, wearing a helmet is especially important for children, who are still growing and in development.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is nearing the end of the fourth year of our Project KidSafe campaign. Since 2013, our campaign has donated over 10,000 new bicycle helmets to children who needed one. Along the way, over 40 community groups, bicycles safety organizations, police departments and schools have pitched in to help us protect children. Many of these groups help us year in and year out.
We had our busiest year yet in 2016, donating over 4,000 children’s bicycle helmets. Here are a few of our recent donations. We thank our partners Bike Milton and the Westwood Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Committee.
Breakstone, White & Gluck recently donated 100 children’s bicycle helmets to Bike Milton, the town of Milton’s bicycle committee (photo above).
On Oct. 2, the Bike Milton distributed bicycle helmets to children at Celebrate Milton, and showed children and parents how to properly fit the helmets. Bike Milton also gave away free bike maps and shared information about the town’s new bike lanes. The Neponset River Greenway extension is also opening soon, which will allow cyclists to ride safely on a protected path. The path runs through Milton, Dorchester and other communities near Boston.
Bike Milton is an active partner of the Safe Routes to School program, which works in schools across the state to teach children how to ride bikes and walk to school safely (Breakstone, White & Gluck is also a supporter of Safe Routes).
Bike Milton is an advocate for safety and has campaigned to make the intersection of Neponset Valley Parkway, Brush Hill Road and Milton Street safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The intersection had no crosswalks and saw 34 reported accidents over an 8-month period. Visit their website to learn more.
Westwood Pedestrian & Bicycle Committee
For the third year, Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bicycle helmets to keep the children of Westwood safe. Our thanks to the Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee, which distributed helmets to children at Westwood Town Day on September 24th. Committee members also spoke to families about the importance of wearing a helmet on every bicycle ride.
Attorney David White of Breakstone, White & Gluck is a member of the Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee, but was unable to attend this year. The committee said all still went smoothly and they distributed over 100 helmets in three hours.
Tips for Fitting a Bicycle Helmet
Questions about bicycle helmets? Visit our bicycle safety page.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, is committed to the safety of all bicyclists in Massachusetts. We have over 100 years combined experience representing bicyclists injured by the negligence of others. If you, or a member of your family, has been injured in a bicycle incident, please feel free to contact us for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form. Thank you and RIDE SAFE!
Westwood families received free bike helmets for their children and learned about cycling and pedestrian safety at Westwood Town Day on September 27th.
The Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee hosted an informational table at the town celebration which was held at the Westwood High School. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated 150 bike helmets which were distributed to children age 16 and younger. The helmets went quickly at the annual event, which offers a fireworks display, music, food and road races for adults and children over the course of two days. Committee members fit children for the bike helmets and explained the importance of always wearing them. Attorney David White, a Westwood resident and committee member, helped fit the helmets.
In Massachusetts, children age 16 and younger are required by law to wear bike helmets. Cyclists of all ages should wear helmets to protect themselves and reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. Many cyclists neglect to do this. In fact, less than half of all cyclists actually wear helmets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of Project KidSafe, our community service project to help prevent injuries among children. Our firm’s specialty is handling personal injury cases for those who have been injured, so we know firsthand the importance of injury prevention. We are devoted to keeping children safe. This is the second year we have donated bicycle helmets to organizations around the state. So far, we have donated over 2,000 helmets.