T MUFFLES NOISE INFO
Insists Herald pay for 350 rider complaints, releases two dozen claims by employees
The MBTA has logged 350 noise complaints from riders and two dozen injury claims from employees — with some saying they were left dizzy, nauseated or suffered hearing loss from the aging system’s earsplitting din.
“Loud screeching” on the tracks was often cited by T employees in records obtained by the Herald.
But the MBTA refused to freely detail the 350 complaints from riders, demanding that the Herald pay for access to those records.
That lack of transparency is raising safety concerns, with a riders’ advocate saying T customers deserve to know all the facts about the potential hearing damage they might be exposed to in their daily commute.
“More people might complain about noise if they knew others already have,” said Louise Baxter of South Boston, a member of the T Riders Union. “Most government stuff is supposed to be public knowledge. You shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Baxter said she intends to join the Herald’s appeal to the MBTA Financial Control Board to release those rider records at no cost.
Monday, the Herald reported that the Green Line’s Boylston Station is even louder than jets at Logan International Airport and World Series cheering, according to readings from a portable decibel meter.
That station, with its 90degree turn on one track, hit 111.3 decibels — a level considered “too much at any time” under the city’s own noise ordinance.
T employees’ complaints cited similar “constant noise” at work, records state, for lost time on the job and tinnitus. Injury claims included:
• “Left ear popped noise trauma-tinnitus-mild hearing loss from loud train noise.”
• “High pitched noise coming from train caused ringing in ears.”
• “Claims stress heard loud noise under train...”
• “Hearing problem ... loud screeching from train.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker referred all comment to the T, where T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the quasi state agency works to protect riders and employees at every turn.
“The T will continue to provide its employees with the equipment, protective gear, and training necessary to maintain a safe workplace environment,” Pesaturo said in an email. “The safety of customers and employees has always been the MBTA’s top priority.”
Of the T’s decision to charge for access to records of rider noise complaints, Pesaturo cited the agency’s lawyer who said “records will have to be scrubbed” before they can be released.
He did not address the hold-your-ears noise on the T, surveyed by the Emerson College/Boston Herald Reinventing Journalism team.
That also included a 98.7 decibel reading as Orange Line and Commuter Rail trains passed next to the Mass Pike, and other readings at the Boylston station that registered 110.9 and 101.7 decibels.
‘LOUD SCREECHING’: Subway riders last week walk through, above, and exit, right, the Boylston MBTA Station, where the noise levels are worse than jets at Logan International Airport and World Series cheering, according to decibel-meter readings conducted by the Emerson College/Boston Herald Reinventing Journalism team.