Security Theater on the Boston T
Since a fatal crash a few years ago, Boston T (their subway) operators have been forbidden from using—or even having—cell phones while on the job. Passengers are encouraged to report violators. But sometimes T operators need to use their official radios on the job, and passengers can’t tell the difference. The solution: orange tape:
The solution? Goodbye, sober black; hello, bright orange, a hue so vivid that, MBTA officials hope, no one will mistake the radios for phones anymore. Workers at the agency’s car barns and garages are in the process of outfitting every handset in the fleet with strips of reflective tape emblazoned with T logos.
… a small but steady number of hot line tips have been found to be cases of drivers or operators communicating with dispatch by radio, according to video and operations-center call logs.
That is where the electric-orange tape should help, Davey said. Over the past two months, the tape has been applied to handheld radios on about 95 percent of the T’s 1,050 buses (each of which has one handset) and one-fourth of its nearly 210 double-ended Green Line trolleys, which have handsets at each end. The rest of the Green Line and the Orange, Blue, and Red line radios will follow.
Taisha O’Bryant, a Roxbury resident who serves as chairwoman of the T Riders Union, said she is more concerned with the frequency and reliability of bus service than the appearance of bus radios. But she said it is a good thing if a driver or operator can call dispatch in the event of a breakdown or service problem without worrying about appearing to talk on a cellphone, and she hailed the cellphone ban.
Of course, no T operator would ever think of putting bright orange tape on his cell phone. Because if he did that, the passengers would immediately know not to report him.