What Do We Do With the Green Line?

1211989446The Green Line is both the bane of my existence and my primary mode of transportation. I hate it because it’s slow, unpredictable, and almost always packed. I love it because, well, it’s the closest T stop to my house, my office, and most of my friend’s apartments.

Most days, I try to rationalize my 20-minute wait at North Station for a Lechmere train by remembering that the line is over 100 years old and, like my grandparents, it needs a little longer to get things done. But after Wednesday’s fatal collision in Newton, some are asking whether the branch should be sent to the old folks’ home.

State Sen. Robert Hedlund blasts the T for not renovating the Green Line, despite warnings that the system was overtaxed.

“They ignored all the warning signs,” said Hedlund. . . . “There’s been a lot of warnings, but the MBTA has gone on with unprecedented capital expansion at the expense of maintaining the existing system.”

Maybe that’s true, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. The T’s debt load is up to $8 billion, even without renovating miles of ancient tunnels and tracks that run right through downtown Boston.

Until the state hits some sort of jackpot, perhaps the answer lies in installing a sensor that would stop Green Line cars that cruise through a red light, as the three newer subway lines have.

[The Green Line] relies on radio contact between operator and dispatcher and strict rules intended to keep trolleys from running into each other.

“There’s nothing to prevent them from going through a red light,” said Bob Moses, who retired last year after dispatching all four lines on the MBTA over more than two decades.

Moses said he mostly avoided working the Green Line. “I prefer dispatching the other lines,” he said. “It’s safer, and that’s what the bottom line is. We don’t have a permanent good signal system on the Green Line.”

Whatever happens, Dan Grabauskas will probably still be heading the agency, since politicians from both parties love him. And we’ll still be riding the light rail, ready for anything that may happen.