MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said he wants an outside investigator to put a "fresh set of eyes" on the T's woes after the second derailment in a week ground traffic and transit to a halt in parts of Boston, frustrating riders, advocates and officials.
"I want a fresh set of eyes on this to make sure we're not missing something," Poftak said, adding that the review will check "if there's some sort of pattern that hasn't been picked up on."
The T is contracting LTK Engineering Services, which the T has worked with on signal upgrades and buying Green Line cars. A T spokesman said the scope of the study is still to be determined, so the agency couldn't provide a cost estimate.
A Red Line train car headed south into the JFK/UMass station derailed shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday causing such "significant damage" that it was unclear how long it will take to fix the area and remove the damaged train, Poftak said Tuesday afternoon. Two minor injuries were reported.
This derailment follows Saturday's Green Line fiasco in which an apparent operator error caused a train to jump the tracks in a tunnel, sending 11 to the hospital and snarling transit traffic to the Pride parade and Red Sox double-header. Three Commuter Rail trains have derailed in the past eight months, two because of axle issues; a Green Line train derailed in February; and an out-of-service Red Line train derailed last month in a lot near Ashmont.
"There's clearly something going on," said Jarred Johnson of TransitMatters, who also wants an independent investigation to get to the bottom of what he sees as a "systemic issue."
Mayor Martin Walsh tweeted, "This week's @MBTA derailments are unacceptable. We need answers, solutions & more funding, and we need it now."
"The city absolutely needs to take a bigger role," said City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, who lives near the derailment, adding that the city needs to work on contingencies to make sure one screw-up doesn't tangle up traffic like Tuesday's derailment did.
Essaibi-George and fellow at-large councilors Michelle Wu and Michael Flaherty earlier this year introduced a resolution to hold a hearing about the T's quality of service.
"Enough is enough," Flaherty told the Herald. "Boston's local assessment of $85.8 million makes up more than half of the total local assessment revenues, yet we don't have a vote on the MBTA budget and have no representation on their Fiscal Management & Control Board."
The T is on track to raise fares July 1.
"They keep raising the prices, but what are we getting?" said commuter Arianna Ramos, 20, at JFK station on Tuesday morning after the derailment. "If we're paying more, they should be providing safe rides. I should be able to get to work and know that I'll be safe. This is just unacceptable."
Tuesday's derailment came less than a day after Poftak assured reporters "the system is safe." When asked about that comment, the GM insisted, "I use the system every day, and I believe it's safe."