T MUFFLES NOISE INFO

In­sists Her­ald pay for 350 rider com­plaints, re­leases two dozen claims by em­ploy­ees

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By JOE DWINELL

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.

STU­ART CAHILL / BOS­TON HER­ALD

‘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.

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