While Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials face public scrutiny after accidents such as the Boylston station collision, T operators and Transit Police have had to face adversity in a recent string of assaults on MBTA trolleys.
On Sunday, a white male in his 50s allegedly assaulted a T trolley operator. The trolley was stopped at Fenway Station and the man assailed the female operator with racial slurs and a punch to the arm before fleeing toward the Landmark Center, according to an MBTA Transit Police report.
The report stated the suspect was wearing a black coat and pushing a carriage full of computer parts when the incident occurred on the outbound side of the station at about 3:10 p.m. on Sunday.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email that assaults on operators are not common, but unfortunately occur from time to time.
“The Transit Police take such incidents very seriously, and work diligently to identify anyone accused of assaulting an MBTA employee,” he said.
Pesaturo also said the MBTA has a method of responding to employee distress and dissatisfaction.
“If, for any reason, an employee requests counseling or other assistance, the MBTA provides it,” he said.
Boston University sociology professor Peter Yeager said in an email that while most people treat drivers with respect, or at least do not bother them, it is unsurprising that a small proportion of riders would cause trouble for drivers and other passengers.
On Tuesday, Transit Police apprehended a 52-year-old woman with a previous warrant for arrest when she threatened multiple men with a knife while riding a trolley at the Brookline Hills station, according to a report on the Transit Police blog.
The woman, later identified as Boston resident Madina Clayton, pointed a small folding knife at one man and cursed at him, according to the report. Additionally, witnesses allege that she followed another man with the knife open and swung the knife at a third victim who was exiting the trolley.
Clayton was arrested for assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and no one was injured or struck by the knife during the ordeal, the report stated.
Some students had mixed reactions on their safety while riding the T.
Jimmy Morgan, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said he thinks he knows when there are people with questionable motives on the T.
“I feel safer in the middle of the day. I can tell when people are sort of crazy at night and people are drinking,” Morgan said. “I haven’t seen any mentally unstable people, but I’ve seen people yell across the train and be obnoxious.”
Julia Budde, a College of General Studies freshman, said she takes the T to and from classes each day, but has never seen or heard of assaults taking place.
“I’ve been uncomfortable on the T sometimes, but I’ve never felt unsafe,” she said. “There’s never any violence.”
Others, such as College of Engineering freshman Jane McClenathan, expressed safety concerns.
“It was late at night and there were three people who were … dancing around the T without holding onto anything, and they were videotaping it,” McClenathan said. “There was a guy who told them that if they didn’t stop videotaping, he would shoot them.”