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Operator error cause of Mattapan trolley crash, MBTA says

Firefighters help injured passengers off of a Mattapan line trolley after it crashed near Cedar Grove Station on Friday.
Firefighters help injured passengers off of a Mattapan line trolley after it crashed near Cedar Grove Station on Friday.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

The trolley crash that injured 17 passengers on the MBTA’s Mattapan high-speed line near Cedar Grove Station Friday was caused by operator error, according to MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville.

“In accordance with standard procedures, the operator will remain out of service as the investigation proceeds,” said Gonneville in a statement on Saturday evening. “The MBTA is currently assessing required repairs to the two trolleys involved in the collision.”

No additional information was immediately available about what error the operator made.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said that officials “established sufficient facts to determine the employee failed to adhere to the MBTA’s procedures and practices for the safe operation of a trolley.”


Asked what procedures or practices the driver failed to adhere to, Pesaturo said the investigation was ongoing.

The crash happened just after 3 p.m., when officials said that two trolley cars traveling inbound collided on a stretch of tracks flanked by the Cedar Grove Cemetery and a river walkway.

Passengers described a sudden jolt, with the front trolley surging about 100 yards, tossing riders forward.

Officials said that the people who were hurt suffered mostly minor injuries, including lacerations, and head, neck, and back injuries. All but one of the were taken to local hospitals.

The MBTA’s fleet of trolleys is about 70 years old, and Gonneville said in his statement that because there are a limited number of them, the Mattapan Line will run with just four trolleys instead of the usual five.

Until the trolleys are fixed, he said, customers should expect to wait six and a half minutes between trolleys rather than five during rush hour.

“The MBTA appreciates the patience of our customers as we work to restore regular service to the Mattapan line,” Gonneville said.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.