Ending Mattapan trolleys may only be a trial balloon, but fans taking no chances

Save the Mattapan Trolley

When Stuart Spina read yesterday the T might look at replacing Mattapan trolleys with electric buses, he quickly created a Facebook group to Save the Mattapan Line, where people are discussing how to do that - and posting photos and stories about their favorite trolley line.



Free tagging: 



Tis a shame we are not there, the mental hospitals were still open then. There could have been one less Arlington resident with access to a keyboard.


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Beyond the fact that the T just redid ashmont like 10 years ago, and the trolley platform was a major part of the renovation, and that the Mattapan trolley is basically the only rapid transit in the no-man's-land between ashmont and Forest Hills, but those trolleys are gorgeous and the ride through the neponset river reservation is gorgeous.

I know those trolleys are inadequate and antiquated and point to how the MBTA doesn't adequately serve poor, working communities (believe me, trying to lug a stroller and two kids up those circa 1955 steps was a near impossibility even for a relatively well built man like myself), and if the T were to replace them with something more modern I'd not complain..but holy fuck..buses?!

Buses are not adequate, have we already forgotten the lessons of the El Train/Silver Line bait and switch?

Ugh. Fkn hate the way the MBTA is being ruined.

The buses would run on the

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The buses would run on the same line, not on streets. Not my preferred method, but sounds like it's getting to be impossible and excessively expensive to keep those trolleys running.

What would you prefer they do for the same amount of money?


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There must be some "off the shelf" replacement. I'd be stunned if a metro system in Europe isn't using an LRV of similar body type which we could purchase.

Get ready for a fight MBTA

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Why is it that the T-Management believe that the minority community need more buses while the suburbs get commuter boats and new green line trolleys.

Museums on wheels

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These vehicles are rolling museum pieces. The T wants to replace them with vehicles that are interchangeable with their other systems (e.g., buses), so maintenance and repairs are much cheaper. I loathe the MBTA buses as compared to their other forms of transit, but I can't argue with the idea that the taxpayers and fare-payers should not be paying for some people's sense of nostalgia.

These things are so old the MBTA literally has to make their own parts for them.

And if you want to play the race card, maybe the position should be, "Why is the MBTA sticking the minority community with these ancient, needlessly expensive old things rather than upgrading to modern vehicles?" (Ever notice how, no matter what's going on, one can always spin it into a social-injustice argument?)

Maybe the people who want to keep these rolling museum pieces in action could ask the MBTA how much more it costs to maintain these things for a year vs. putting modern buses or GL-style LRVs on the tracks, and then pledge to raise the difference from private funds. There are plenty of private benefactors, grants, etc., out there that fund literal museums, so why not do the same here?

Failing that, maybe the MBTA should take that cost difference and apply it as a fare increase specifically to the Mattapan trolley—as had been suggested they do to the late-night service—so the rest of the system (and the entire state's taxpayers) aren't paying for it. Of course then social-justice warriors can start screaming their heads off about discriminatory pricing being inflicted on "minority communities," too...

Interchangeable? Race Card?

Honky and former Mattapan HSL rider here.

When you have the chance, please pick up a Red Line car and place it on the Blue Line and let me know how far you get. The heavy rail lines are not interchangeable.

As far as the social justice argument, there are a lot of people who take the Mattapan line and wouldn't be caught dead living in some ghetto like Comm Ave in Allston whilst 35 year old LRVs struggle to avoid whacking BU students.

Keep the Mattapan line a light rail vehicle line. It's worked well for 85 years. Why mess around with it? Those 70 year old PCC's seem to be a lot more reliable than newer stock. Simplicity, simplicity works here.

first off....

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The Mattapan trolley was free for a long time until relatively recently, so those who use it are already paying an increased fare, up from zero.

Second, have you ever ridden one? Yeah they are rolling museum pieces, that doesn't mean it's a rickety old bag of bolts shaking down the tracks. They are actually comfortable and move along at a pretty nice pace. And for the T, they have been renovated pretty recently. A 1964 Lincoln Towncar is much more comfortable and solid than a 1985 Honda Civic, which brings me to another point: they don't make stuff like they used to. Those newer green line trolleys are garbage (evidenced by the fact they are not buying more of them and instead re-habbing the older ones), and likely need just as much repair as the Mattapan Trolleys if not more. In fact, if memory serves me they all got sent back for some kind of recall or major repair not that long ago. The construction materials used in building them is not even close to the same quality. I will take 1940s American steel over Chinese pot metal any day.

Third, unless the plan is to run fossil fuel burning buses on city streets then upgrading the current system will also be expensive. Updating bridges to handle the added weight, upgrading the electrical, paving over the tracks, remodelling the existing (relatively new) handicap ramps/platforms to accomodate new cars/busses. I really don't see how it is more expensive to keep what is already in place running. Even with the fact people keep throwing around about parts for them. I dabble in restoring old cars, right? These old trolleys are mechanically pretty basic. Making/having parts made is not as big a deal as people make it out to be. There are plenty of competent machine shops in the area (the T has its own actually) that can fabricate parts, and those are American jobs and American made parts. The alternative is buying more cars/buses from some foreign coach builder then buying parts made in China or some other third world country that come off an assembly line and will probably break again in short order due to materials and/or design. After running these trolleys since the 40s I'm gonna guess the kinks have been worked out or design issues are known and can either be corrected or anticipated. It is likely that after a 70 year old part fails and a new one is fabricated, the part will last another 70 years, or longer given improved technologies and materials.

Finally, the social justice/minority communities thing makes me belly laugh every time I read it. Mattapan Square and Ashmont are the only two stops on that line (at the ends) that service, lets call them "rougher" areas. The rest of the Mattapan line runs through Milton and the more gentrified parts of Dorchester (Lower Mills). Boston must be the only major city in America shrinking its rail system. If you remove trolly/train service from these areas how can we expect growth and improvements there? They are constantly trying and failing at adding stops, extending lines, etc etc, meanwhile ripping out and deleting whole parts of it. i think it has finally become politically "sexy" to spend money MAINTAINING existing infastructure.

So, update the physical plant of the line

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so you can run modern LRVs (like those being used on the Green Line) on it. That gets you the cost savings of a common fleet for which parts are readily available, but maintains a rapid transit line.

And it can be done for the same cost, if not less, than converting the line to an electric BRT service.

Sadly, as has been constantly demonstrated elsewhere (Watertown Line, Arborway Line), the T management is doing everything they can to eliminate more efficent light rail in favor of less efficent buses. That seems to be the driving force behind this outlandish propsal.

Roadie . me thinks the

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Roadie . me thinks the economy here is maintaining the existing right of way , as it is a dedicated one out of the roadway of the autocars. Somehow new and improved trolleys , simple and sweet, must be able to roll on these tracks. Maybe , and this is a fantasy business league pick, when the City of Boston lures GE to the waterfront, or whatever they call it now , all shiny as it is, and not a sub shop with ample parking , or a bat and ball joint , to be found , they ( GE ) can be enlightened to get into the trolley and subway car business , maybe utilizing the Lynn works. Create a business model , Made in the USA design , public transit system specialties , minor tweaking available for select cities in the USA. Keep it simple. expand it throughout the system. No adventurisms ,,,,

The St. Charles Avenue streetcars in New Orleans are much older

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...and no one is thinking of replacing them.

The streetcars running on the Canal Street line were actually built by New Orleans RTD. I'm sure they could build some more for the T, or teach the T to do it themselves.

The real problem here is morons in the legislature and a governor who feels that cutting the T's costs is more important than carrying out its mission.

Lower Mills.

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Lower Mills is very diverse, and the trolley goes though Milton for a couple of stops, so sorry not a minority " line". The lack of articulated busses to between Mattapan and Forest Hills speaks more to the reality of underserved minority ridership, Those buses are packed, standing room only and suffer the impact of traffic and transit re routing of MBTA's low inventory of buses.

Well, Actually...

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A boat could make the trip.

The trolley line runs parallel to the Neponset River for about 2/3 of its length and the river eventually empties into Dorchester Bay. There's a dam you'd have to negotiate around near Milton station but otherwise you could make a run from Mattapan Square to Rowes Wharf.

Not that it would be a good substitute for the trolley, but I'm just saying... :-)


That would be great! The

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That would be great! The river would be dredged, and to watch the faces of those waiting for the Granite Ave bridge to close would be worth the price of admission!

'' Welcome to Hibernian Hall!

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'' Welcome to Hibernian Hall!

Built in 1913, Hibernian Hall was one of the last of Dudley Square’s lively Irish social clubs and dance halls serving Roxbury’s Irish community during the first half of the twentieth century. It served as a lodge for several divisions of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), which began in 1836 in New York as a response to anti-Irish sentiment, before shifting to charitable work and the promotion and preservation of Irish cultural heritage. ''


There used to be the boat from Galway you could take right to the Hibernian and back, and if you wanted to stay over for a bit, they would give you a pick and shovel to get some work. Now all we got is a stinking ferry boat out out of an old shipyard in Hingham that has to past an old Nike missle site and an ammo dump to make it to the city.It aint right!

Anyone done any research into

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Anyone done any research into connections between the "bus rapid transit" fetishists and anti-streetcar conspiracies like this? Are we seeing another generation of this now? Electric buses obviously aren't benefiting the old-school motor vehicle corporations and energy concerns in the same way as gas/diesel buses replacing streetcars did in the 1950s, but "follow the money" is always a good exercise. You never know what cockroaches you'll expose.

I can't argue with the MBTA's desire to replace these ancient trolleys with something more cost-effective, but buses are horrible. The MBTA should be looking to move another batch of GL LRVs to this line, not buses.

tin-foil speedos

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"Follow the money" isn't too hard when the push is on to funnel it all from the public into the private sector. Someone mentioned switching everything over to buses as that makes maintenance more efficient. Well the number one privatization target for the Baker Boys has been the maintenance side of the MBTA equation.

Switching everything over to one type of vehicle will take a large capital investment (on us) but once that is done it will make the maintenance side of it much easier (and potentially profitable). As it stands right now, as someone above mentioned, the MBTA actually has to machine some of their own parts for the museum pieces rolling around out there (not to mention all those hairnets on the traction motors).

Not one inch of rail , nor

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Not one inch of rail , nor one drop of art paint , should be expended on the GLX , until a solution to keeping this line in service. Not even one sheet of study paper for expansions to the souhcoast. The Golden Goose has no more eggs, the money tree has no leaves remaining. Take care of what you got, can I get a trolley out of the Arborway, any color will do !

What's Broken?!

Every day we have a major failure on the Red Line with the other lines barely any better. The 20 year promise of the green line extension is falling apart. Fares are unreasonably being raised for service which is spotty at best when it's below freezing.

And yet the MBTA decides to pick a fight with the one line that works just fine?

The cost of running these trains is still far less than any retrofit. And if they found the money for a retrofit, put it towards improving the service on the other lines which are in far worst shape. (And consider that the cheapest way of doing something isn't the best.)

Take a few of those Type 9s

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Take a few of those Type 9s ordered for GLX and send them to Mattapan. Oh, and make sure you have a poll about what color to paint them first.