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Last year's Market-Frankford line subway crash that killed four people was a result of SEPTA's failure to properly inspect and maintain the subway cars, according to a report released yesterday. The report by the National Transportation Safety Board also cited the state government for not having adequate safety review programs for mass transit systems. The March 7 accident killed four people and injured 158 when a motor fell off the bottom of the train's fourth car, leading to the derailment of the fourth car which spun off the track, dragging the fifth and sixth cars. SEPTA officials said they are still conducting their own investigation of the accident. Alan Pollack, spokesperson for the Safety Board, said many of its recomendations were "common sense." But because it is only an advisory board, Pollack said he hoped that SEPTA would follow the recommendations. Public Policy and Management Professor Bruce Allen, who specializes in transportation, said yesterday that it often takes an accident such as SEPTA's to "shake people up" and spur them to correct a faulty system. "We like to think people plan, but many times they don't," Allen said. The Safety Board made several recommendations to SEPTA to improve its safety system. First, the board advised that the maintenace and inspection program be improved in order to ensure the quality of all SEPTA rail transit equipment. Second, the board said training programs that detail whether inspections are performed correctly need to be developed for supervisors, mechanics and inspectors. In addition, the board recommended that SEPTA develop an improved evacuation system that includes a public address system, separate from electric wiring, on elevated subway cars. Also, SEPTA should provide passengers with emergency evacuation instructions in conspicuous places. Finally, evacuation drills in employee-training sessions must be created to include passengers and personnel, the board said. The Safety Board also suggested to state legislators that they create an agency or assign an existing agency to regulate and enforce safety on the state's rapid transit systems.

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