The Green Line operator fired for crashing a trolley last week while in a drowsy fog had for years worked two full-time jobs without drawing scrutiny, one with the MBTA and one with the Boston Housing Authority, officials acknowledged Thursday.
A housing authority spokeswoman identified the employee as James Marshall, a safety dispatcher who has worked 26 years for the authority and remains employed on an overnight shift.
A T employee with knowledge of the matter confirmed that Marshall was the driver, although the transit agency has officially declined to identify him except as a 46-year-old Green Line operator hired in 2006. He was fired Wednesday for what the MBTA’s acting general manager termed “alarming disregard for customer and employee safety.”
Marshall had apparently logged a grueling schedule for years to bring home a combined salary of about $100,000 a year. In the overnight hours, he answered calls from Boston Housing Authority residents and dispatched inspectors to their apartments. Then he showed up for work at the T, driving trolleys on the Green Line.
That schedule appears to have finally caught up with Marshall last week, when his outbound trolley ran into the back of another train that was stopped ahead of him at Boylston Street Station to let passengers on and off. The crash caused 37 people to be sent to hospitals with what the T called minor to moderate injuries and resulted in about $500,000 worth of vehicle damage.
Lydia Agro, spokeswoman for the Boston Housing Authority, identified Marshall as a dispatcher who has worked for the city authority “without incident or suspension for 26 years.” He follows a “four-and-two schedule,” meaning he works from midnight to 8 a.m. four days in a row, takes two days off, and does it again. His salary is $40,136.50, Agro said.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority records show Marshall earned $63,398 plus benefits from the T last year as a full-time Green Line motorman, averaging 40 hours a week. He was supposed to receive a safety award last Friday for three straight years of incident-free operation.
The transit agency provides all drivers with a half-hour fatigue awareness program at least once a year, and it monitors their hours to ensure that they do not exceed 60 hours a week and that they take at least six hours off between T shifts.
But the MBTA does not ban drivers from moonlighting elsewhere or require them to inform their supervisors of outside jobs.
At a Wednesday press briefing, the T’s acting general manager, Jonathan R. Davis, said that when investigators interviewed the driver, he told them he had a second job he described as part-time. He told investigators he had worked at that second job from midnight to 8 a.m. two days in a row before driving full days on the Green Line.
T officials would not say if the driver had misled them about the extent of his outside work. On Thursday, Davis again declined to name the man or his outside occupation — “it’s not relevant to the discussion,” he said — but said MBTA managers are trying to learn from the matter.
“We will look around to see what our peers are doing, and we will have a thoughtful evaluation of whether or not we should or should not change our policies as it relates to disclosure of a second job,” he said.
The American Public Transportation Association, an industry organization, does not track second-job policies. A Globe survey of multiple large transit agencies Thursday suggested requirements vary.
MBTA employment rules prohibit workers from engaging in “outside activities that interfere with their attendance at work or proper performance of their duties with the authority,” meaning drivers must arrive for work alert for duty.
SEPTA, the transit authority for Philadelphia, has a similar policy, barring employees from “any outside business, occupation, or activity that in any way affects the performance of duty for the authority.” As with the T, supervisors visually inspect drivers before they get behind the wheel or controls each day. But employees do not have to notify those supervisors of outside jobs, said Andrew Busch, spokesman for the Philadelphia transit agency.
In Chicago, CTA drivers and operators are allowed to hold second jobs, but are required to clear them with their managers first. The type of work and number of hours allowed vary by position, and employees who fail to notify the agency are instructed to quit those outside jobs and may be subject to other discipline, spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said.
In Los Angeles, transit drivers must receive permission from their supervisors before working outside jobs. Those hours are tallied and limited, spokesman Rick Jager said. If the second job also means working as a driver, the total hours per day and week are capped by state regulations. A job that doesn’t involve driving, such as working as a dispatcher for a housing authority, is subject to discretion about the stress, time, and potential impact on safety.
Davis said the MBTA’s rules emphasize “self-responsibility,” and said he is reluctant to prohibit secondary jobs without also regulating activities and pastimes people engage in outside work.
“It [would need to go] beyond just disclosure,” he said of a possible second-job rule. “Someone would also then need to evaluate that, make some type of judgment as to whether that does or does not interfere with their duties here at the MBTA. And also it needs to be done in a fair and objective manner.”
No one answered the door at Marshall’s home in Brockton Thursday evening. A woman who answered the phone at a number associated with the address declined to comment.
Neighbors said Marshall and his family were friendly but kept to themselves.
“They’re nice people,” said Antonio Teixeira, who has lived next door to Marshall for more than five years. He described Marshall as a hard worker and said he usually saw Marshall when he was leaving or coming back from work.
Stanley Daniel has lived a block from Marshall for nine years and said he sees Marshall around the neighborhood when Daniel walks his dog or goes to a nearby park. He remarked on Marshall’s work ethic.
“He seemed to just be a workaholic kind of guy,” he said.