No Portable Electronics for Boston Transit Drivers

Prompted by a May 8 trolley crash, a 90-day regulation bars possession of a device while on duty.

A 90-day emergency regulation is in effect that bars Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operators from possessing or using any portable electronic device while on the job. MBTA is the public transit agency of metropolitan Boston, operating buses, subways and light rail trains, vans, boats, and streetcars. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick requested the regulation on May 16 after a May 8 trolley crash between two stations sent more than 40 people to hospitals for treatment. The Department of Public Utilities issued the emergency rule and began the 90-day period during which it will hold a public hearing. DPU could make the regulation permanent after the 90 days has elapsed.

The crash involved one trolley running into the back of a second one; the 24-year-old conductor of the first trolley was texting his girlfriend when the collision occurred, MBTA General Manager Grabauskas told The Boston Globe.

Grabauskas already had announced a "zero tolerance" policy that calls for the immediate suspension and recommends dismissal of bus, train, and subway operators caught using a cell phone, iPod, or pager while on duty. Under those new rules, drivers are prohibited from having such a device in their pocket or in a bag while on the job.

DPU is responsible for oversight of the safety and security practices of the MBTA under state law and through a delegation of authority under federal law, but MBTA itself is responsible for enforcing the emergency order.

"We believe it is very important to ban the use or possession of electronic devices by bus and train operators in order to ensure public safety," said DPU Chairman Paul Hibbard. "The most recent incident shows again how dangerous it is to use a personal electronic device while operating any vehicle, so we are putting our full support behind the MBTA's new policy."

For several years, MBTA has banned cell phone use by drivers while on the job. Its penalties were a three-day suspension after one offense, a 10-day suspension after two, and dismissal for the third offense.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2021

    October 2021


      On Route To Safe Material Handling
      Normalization of Deviations in Performance
      Arresting Fugitive Dusts
      Safety Shoes Make the Outfit for Well-Protected Workers
    View This Issue