Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby boblothrope » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:29 pm

3rdrail wrote:M.G.L C90, S15 Every person operating a school bus, ... upon approaching a railroad crossing at grade, shall bring his vehicle to a full stop not less than fifteen feet and not more than fifty feet from the nearest track of said railroad,


Since this law only mentions school buses, why do transit and coach buses also stop at railroad crossings in MA?

I know of several crossings that are a big hassle for buses, but the few trains that use them always stop and wait for road traffic to stop. Some are even on lines that see no trains at all. Why can't they be signed as exempt crossings, so buses don't have to stop?
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:07 pm

You're asking me for a personal opinion here, Bob, I suppose. The quote is not mine but the Commonwealth's. My opinion is that it would seem that non-school buses are not required to make this stop, and that drivers may be making it out of caution or ignorance of the law. Of course, knowing that some bus drivers drive multiple type buses, school and transit, may bring upon the suggestion by the Commonwealth for all buses to stop so as to establish this in their mind regardless of what kind of bus they actually are driving. I would make this a rule if I were a bus company GM handling school and transit.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby Disney Guy » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:14 pm

At some locations where a railroad crossing and a traffic signal are next to each other, the traffic signal shows green for cars driving off of the track when the railroad crossing signal is operating. This results in the road intersection remaining empty and traffic on the street parallel to the tracks also being stopped until the train has passed. Other locations give the green light to the parallel street, perhaps with a delay to give cars on the tracks a chance to drive off.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby CRail » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:45 pm

pnolette wrote:Only commercial veichles that carry HAZ-MAT are required to stop at crossings.Unless the rules changed,I've never heard of one truck at a time at a crossing in my 22 years of driving tractor-trailers.But yes,we use plenty of common sense when we're out there.

I don't know what the actual law states, but I know what the DOT requires to obtain a CDL. Railroad crossing procedures are part of the road test for all trucks and buses alike, and if you fail to miss any step while demonstrating such procedures you fail the test. The CDL test isn't what it was 22 years ago.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby 3rdrail » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:10 pm

That may be it, in Mass anyway. Because the CDL roadtest wouldn't differentiate buses from trucks and goes with the stricter action of stopping, people that pass are in the habit because of it whether or not the law calls for it.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby maddoxdy » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:13 am

Don't know about MA specifically, but... I have a CDL in PA & have driven over the rode, school bus, para-transit and transit buses. Only trucks carrying haz-mat (doesn't matter how big a truck) are required to stop at a RR crosing, it used to be only buses carrying passengers were required to stop, however, since it is hard to tell from the outside, I think this was changed to stopping all the time. This change was back in 03-04. School buses must always stop at a RR crossing. It's been a while since I held a haz-mat endorsement, 02, but a big difference between bus & truck stopping at a RR crosing is that a bus is required to engage it's parcking brake, trucks just have to stop. (um, actual practice varies) And since you have to open your windows to listen for the train, most trucks (back in 02) had power window on the passenger side only, driver side was hand crank. I've passed CDL tests in Tenn & PA, both were the same, I don't think there's much varation from state to state as my PA lic is good in any other state.

Of course there is the subject of exempt crossings...

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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:25 am

maddoxdy wrote: I don't think there's much varation from state to state as my PA lic is good in any other state.

It would be anyway by reciprocal agreement.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby ACeInTheHole » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:09 pm

I don't stop on the tracks per say, but when I come up to a crossing with my car, anywhere, I slow to a crawl and look both ways, just in case the warning systems (gates/lights etc.) don't work, so I don't find out the hard way getting hit by a train. Then once I see the track is clear, I go.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby boblothrope » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:54 pm

maddoxdy wrote:It's been a while since I held a haz-mat endorsement, 02, but a big difference between bus & truck stopping at a RR crosing is that a bus is required to engage it's parcking brake, trucks just have to stop. (um, actual practice varies)


I've never seen an MBTA bus set the parking brake. Some drivers open the door, others don't.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby MBTA1016 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:21 pm

boblothrope wrote:
maddoxdy wrote:It's been a while since I held a haz-mat endorsement, 02, but a big difference between bus & truck stopping at a RR crosing is that a bus is required to engage it's parcking brake, trucks just have to stop. (um, actual practice varies)


I've never seen an MBTA bus set the parking brake. Some drivers open the door, others don't.


I'm been on a bus for a school trip and we stopped at a grade crossing and the driver opened the door.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby Red Wing » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:56 am

As a former transit bus driver, we were never required to use our parking break. Our procedures as you approach the crossing put your four ways on stop at crossing look both ways cross tracks turn off your four ways.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby banshee » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:37 am

Bridgewater State University has a pedestrian crossing adjacent and parallel to the tracks on Rt 104(Plymouth St near Hale St). The students just blithely stroll across that busy road causing multiple car backups in both directions..many times with cars on the tracks. someone is going to get stuck between the gates on of these days due to poor pedestrian planning!
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby MBTA1016 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:26 pm

The one place I know where stopping on a grade crossing is dangerous is Framingham. There's the csx yard plus u have commuter rail crossing route 135 at grade. Never mind the other crossings for the Framingham sub csx uses. I could ask my neighbor who is a cop for walpole if its illegal. Walpole has a grade crossing in south walpole on the Framingham sub with only cross bucks protecting it. No lights or gates that come down.
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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby bhshea » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:22 pm

There is a grade crossing in Northampton on Damon Road where traffic often sits on the tracks while waiting for a nearby signal. The Pan Am tracks on the Connecticut River Line have been in such bad shape for so long that everyone in town expects the trains to be going at 10 MPH. They'll be in for a rude awakening once the tracks are upgraded, and I hope people start paying better attention.

Also, I took a look at my Massachusetts CDL Manual, and in the Passenger Endorsement section it says to stop and look at RR crossings. This would apply to School Buses as well, obviously. And the CDL requirements are set by the Feds, I'm not sure how much leeway states have.

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Re: Is it illegal to stop on railroad tracks, here in MA?

Postby MBTA1016 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:48 pm

Since CDL is federal law it over rules anything the state does.
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