MEDFORD, Mass. - It was another tough commute for MBTA riders after a track fire suspended Orange Line service for multiple hours on Friday afternoon and evening.
The MBTA tweeted after 3 p.m. Friday that Orange Line service is experiencing delays after reports of smoke onboard a train between Wellington and Malden Center.
Orange Line service experiencing 20+ minute delays as we investigate a report of smoke on board a train between Wellington and Malden Center. Trains standing at stations.— MBTA (@MBTA) August 23, 2019
Soon after, the MBTA confirmed a fire on the track.
A fire has been confirmed in the track area. Passengers evacuated from the train to wellington. 3rd rail power was deactivated.— MBTA (@MBTA) August 23, 2019
Passengers were evacuated and the third rail power was deactivated. Armstrong Ambulance told Boston 25 News one person was transported. No injuries were reported by passengers say the whole experience was terrifying.
"People started yelling and banging on the door to try and get the driver to stop, which he did," said Kim Vanderbeck, who was forced to evacuate out onto the tracks with the rest of the riders.
"I would say it was at least a three-to-four-foot jump off the front of the train, off onto the tracks," she added.
Shuttle buses replaced service between Oak Grove and Community College until service was fully restored on the Orange Line around 7 p.m.
As of 6:53 PM Orange Line service has fully resumed across the entire line.— MBTA (@MBTA) August 23, 2019
Thank you to @MaldenPolice, @MaldenFire, @MedfordPolice and @MedfordFire for their assistance and for keeping our riders and employees safe.
Many passengers were not happy having to get on the crowded buses that have just 39 seats on average.
"And you can see the buses filled pretty fast, so you have to wait another five minutes or something," said Krischan Phanju. "Definitely, I would say, an hour-plus wait for people who have to get home today."
"I pay a lot of money, you raise the prices on me, MBTA," said Jasmine Smith. "So I pay $90 [per] month for the train to catch on fire, thank you."
The fire also caused delays on the Commuter Rail's Haverhill Line.
Haverhill Train 211 is reversing from Malden C due to fire on the Orange Line tracks. Passengers travelling between Malden C & N Wilmington will alight at N Station. All other passengers will remain onboard for service to Haverhill via the Lowell Line.— MBTA Commuter Rail (@MBTA_CR) August 23, 2019
Passengers aboard took to Twitter to share videos, photos and, of course, their frustration.
"We were going under a tunnel and started seeing what we thought were sparks that quickly became clear was fire when we were going under a tunnel," Vanderbeck said.
When the fire first started and passengers were yelling to stop the train. This is the front car, the fire seemed to be outside the second car and the smoke was coming into the train pic.twitter.com/kIk45bCBij— Kim Vanderbeck (@Kay_Em_Vee__) August 23, 2019
Riders weren't the only ones who took to Twitter calling for change.
Every line of the @MBTA 🌈 struggling not just with reliability but SAFETY too. And so traffic keeps getting worse.— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) August 23, 2019
When will @MassGovernor acknowledge our transportation crisis & commit to solutions at the scale we need? https://t.co/ioNPBAr0GU
And yet they've repeatedly jacked up fares for this level of service. It's bad enough they let things deteriorate to this level, but they rifled through the pockets of the riders they too often leave stranded on top of it. Shameful. #MBTA #mapoli @wutrain @JimAloisi https://t.co/kQZiMQ2kqs— Joseph A. Curtatone (@JoeCurtatone) August 23, 2019
This comes one week after the MBTA rolled out the first new trains in decades on the Orange Line. As seen from Sky25, Friday's incident, however, did not involve one of the new trains.
A spokesperson for the MBTA released a statement to Boston 25 News when we asked for comment:
T personnel are working to identify the root cause of today's fire. The MBTA apologizes to its customers whose commutes were disrupted today. The T is committed to accelerating its capital improvement projects, which include major upgrades to subway track, power and signal infrastructure and all new fleets of trains.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.