Looks like the T isn't bluffing about not restoring service on the A Line

Packards Corner MBTA tracks

After just 45 years, the T has disconnected the last vestige of the A Line from the B Line at Packards Corner. Steve Burns photographed the new switchless curve where trolleys could formerly head towards Watertown.



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Long Gone

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As far as I know that is the last portion of A line track at all, in that photo. The rest has all been ripped up or paved over all the way from Packard's Corner to Oak Sq.

There are still tracks at

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There are still tracks at Watertown carhouse (and the entire carhouse itself is still there). The old yard at Watertown is paved over and used as a commuter parking lot lot for the express buses, while the building is still used by the MBTA power department's emergency response crew.

One last remnant of the Watertown line is now briefly visible as Green Line trains passed through now-closed Government Center station. The 1990s era Green Line maps have been removed, and under them remain the 1968-era Green Line maps that include a five-branch Green Line with "A Watertown" displayed. I'm sure the maps will disappear soon so get a look from a passing trolley while you can. There were only a few station modernized between the time the MBTA adopted the color coding for the lines in 1965 and the closing of the Watertown Line in 1969, so very few station ever had maps that displayed "A Watertown"

The MBTA will probably have Ward Maps sell the maps and get a cut, but it would be nice if one was preserved and not gobbled up by a private collector.


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It would be nice to have trolley service to Watertown, but street running is pretty terrible - slow trains, slow cars, endangered pedestrians.

The trolley service later

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The trolley service later known as the "A" branch had a dedicated median on Brighton Ave until the late 1940s, when it was paved and made available to cars. "To ease congestion," they said, but obviously only thinking about automobiles. Twenty years later, trolleys were discontinued entirely for revenue service. But yes, it did run in the street further out in Brighton and Newton.

BTW, trolleys do not endanger pedestrians. The cars and trucks are much more dangerous. Trolleys have been successfully mixing with pedestrians for over a century, all over the world. The street would be much safer for pedestrians if the trolleys were still there. Because of that whole "slow cars" thing that you mentioned.

Streetcars and pedestrians

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Streetcars are probably quite a bit safer for pedestrians than buses or cars. You know exactly where a streetcar is going at any given time (unless it's a Type 8, then it might roll up on the sidewalk). Even for cyclists, if you avoid the tracks, you don't have to worry about a streetcar pulling out of a bus stop. With transit in the middle of the street, it is not constantly pulling in to and out of stops across the right side of the road where the cyclists are.

Have a cite that streetcars

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Have a cite that streetcars are safer for pedestrians than buses?

While I generally think streetcars are a good idea, it seems dangerous to have to walk into the street to board, since cars often break the law and pass stopped trolleys on the right.

Safety zones (essentially mini-platforms in between the trolley tracks and the curb lane) can help solve this problem: http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09_10/market_street_si...

Common sense

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A cite? I don't have anything formal off the top of my head. When I have time I'll poke around and see if anyone has done anything. It's just common sense: as Ari said, they move slowly and predictably, they bring people to the street instead of forcing them out of the street, and they are successfully used in cities around the world, in places that are much more pedestrian focused than even here.

While I generally think streetcars are a good idea, it seems dangerous to have to walk into the street to board, since cars often break the law and pass stopped trolleys on the right.

Well, that's the automobiles causing the danger, not the streetcar. So why blame the streetcar?

But yes, boarding platforms like that will not be created again for the reasons that were stated later, accessibility. An island platform like in SF or some European cities is the solution if such a streetcar line is created nowadays. Or even sort of "tabled platform intersection" where the entire street raises up to the necessary height for level boarding.

However, I am in favor of dedicated transit medians/lanes anyway, wherever possible.

Previous state

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Happened to have snapped a pic of the intersection recently, and you can see what was there before the weekend, and what they ripped out. Sorry for crap quality, I wasn't aiming at that spot in particular. This is a "software zoomed" copy.


I believe the last equipment

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I believe the last equipment to run on the line ran in 1994—25 years after it closed to revenue service.

back in the day.....

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for years after trolley service stopped in brighton they would run street cars thru the center, in the middle of the night, to repair them in the watertown yard. we used to be out runnning around and we would hear this strange rumbling....

also, those tracks used to cause a lot of car accidents, slippery when wet or cold!

As well as power supply

There's a number of trolley poles along the former A Line (don't know about all), [nearly?] every pole is still along the E Line, and both lines still have their power supply running and active.

All that's missing is rails and a catenary line.

Is Arborway next?

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Ok, now that they've finally gotten rid of all the vestiges of the A line after 50 years, will the Arborway portion of the Green Line be next? It's been at least 25 years now.


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Other than some stray poles (that are supposed to be taken out as part of the Route 39 stop adjustments/curb changes) and a ghostly sign at the former terminus, there's basically nothing left of the Arborway portion right now.

They will never, ever resume that service unless forced to; they'd prefer to eliminate service from Brigham Circle, as they did briefly in the name of "budget cuts" not too long ago. At any rate, it's a pipe dream that they could just uncover those rails that may remain and run. The whole thing would have to be rebuilt from scratch. Modern trolleys are much, much heavier.

I hadn't heard about the

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I hadn't heard about the weight issue.

At all the Arborway restoration meetings I went to, the big issue was that restarting service after such a long time triggered a legal requirement for wheelchair access. And there was no way to provide wheelchair access to the current trolleys without providing 8 inch high platforms (i.e. no more boarding directly from the street). And you can't build those in the street, so the tracks would have to swerve towards the curb at stops. This means major reconstruction of the street and tracks, which the T didn't have the money for; as well as removal of lots of parking, which some people opposed.