MBTA should restrict moonlighting by drivers

THE MBTA should learn the obvious lesson from a recent Green Line crash that, according to the agency, was the result of an error by a driver with a second job. The transit agency says the driver in question worked on a second job from midnight to 8 a.m., then proceeded to his 11 a.m. Green Line morning shift, and crashed a trolley 48 minutes later at the Boylston Street station. The driver, whose other job was with the Boston Housing Authority, has been fired from the MBTA. Yet the T still has no rules restricting outside employment, and train and bus operators are under no obligation to inform supervisors of second jobs.

That lack of disclosure and supervision should end. The 37 reported injuries and three-hour interruption in Green Line service are a clear illustration of why the T needs drivers who are attentive at all times. Other transit agencies regulate outside work. Bus and train operators for the Los Angeles County Metro can have outside employment, but they first must obtain written approval from supervisors, on pain of termination. And operators are not allowed to combine transit duties with outside work that exceeds a 12-hour day. Transit agencies in Chicago and the Washington area impose restrictions as well.

MBTA acting general manager Jonathan Davis said that new rules will be looked at, though he remains unsure “if we can really legislate outside activities.” But other agencies demand to know about moonlighting, and the T should follow Los Angeles’s example. No one is saying that drivers should be completely prohibited from holding any other job. But it is clearly unsafe for operators to work a full eight-hour shift somewhere else and then operate a subway train, trolley, or bus a few hours later. Riders need to know that the driver at the wheel is well-rested.