Monday, July 25, 2005

Losing the Key to Boston's Heart

The MBTA, which oversees public transportation in Boston, Cambridge, and throughout my home state, has a little problem:

While transit systems focus on spotting suspicious people and packages to thwart terrorists, the MBTA says it is trying to fix another vulnerability in Boston's subways: thousands of master keys that provide access to all subway stations, which are locked overnight.

T officials say that the existence of so many keys is a problem and that it is difficult to track who has them. The keys open all exterior doors and gates at subway stations, plus men's restrooms inside, but do not allow access to ''safety sensitive" areas such as control rooms.

The ''P keys," which look like regular house keys stamped with a P, are in the hands of more than 5,000 operations employees, including bus drivers and others who rarely work underground. Since the keys aren't numbered, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials aren't sure whether any unauthorized people have them.

This is NOT a good thing. But these keys are hard to get ahold of right? Um, no.
''They do fall into the hands of people that shouldn't have them," said Mike Flaherty of Weymouth, who retired last year after two decades as a supervisor on the Green Line. ''I've closed Arlington Station some nights, and by the time I'd close one part and got in my truck to go close the second half, I'd view the homeless people from the Public Garden opening the doors and going into the stations.

''Where they obtain these keys, I don't know."

At least these keys are hard to duplicate, right? Again, um, no.
The T says it requires employees to turn in keys when they leave their jobs. But the authority can't do much if the key isn't returned. For instance, the T says it does not have the authority to dock pensions.

But Flaherty said T management has never paid much attention to controlling access to keys. When new supervisors came on the job, he'd often lend them his key so they could make a copy, he said.

''Believe it or not, the new inspectors, that is how they would get their keys," Flaherty said. ''They'd take it to a hardware store near Canal Street. That's where most of the keys were made."

I love Boston. Greatest city in the country. But c'mon guys, get your act together! You would not even need a suicide bomber, and seraching bags would be pointless; the bastards could just go in at night and plant the bombs. Copley Plaza or Harvard Square at rush hour? My God.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at Floridablues)
< Blogarama