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T may pump $3 million into keeping the Mattapan trolleys running

The Dorchester Reporter reports T officials realize they need to spend the money even if they decide to just ditch the old PCC cars because replacing them will take time.

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The T discovers that nothing is free.

I'm going to be highly suspect of whatever the engineering firm they've hired has to say about the train. They've been at end-of-life since the 1970s but unlike the Red/Orange line they seem to be running fine. Any replacements will cost tens of millions, particularly if they do something dumb like try to repave the tracks and shoe-horn busses.

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3 of the 10 cars in the Mattapan PCC fleet are out of service long term because of lack of parts. If they don't eventually do something (rebuild or replace), the fleet will slowly continue to shrink until there aren't enough cars to cover the schedule (they need five cars in the peak).

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Argentina ran the same subway cars for 98 years. 98 years! San Francisco has dozens of old trolleys run every day from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Eastern Europe is still populated with plenty of soviet buses and trolleys.

But in one of the smartest and richest cities in the world we cant figure it out?

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there are not current production streetcars/LRVs that meet the weight and dimensional limitations of the Mattapan line. Especially given that, as opposed to similar lines in most cities overseas, the Mattapan line is completely isolated and doesn't share the right of way with buses or other vehicles.

It shouldn't take paying an outside engineering firm $3 million to identify the location and source of those vehicles. And if Baker's "fiscal control board" was doing its job properly, this boondogle would never be approved.

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Every new governor = new "control board". They always come up with the same strategy:

Step 1: Cut services, raise fares
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Better, expanded service

They are great at Step 1 and never move on from there.

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the $3 million would be for keeping the existing fleet up and running for a few more years. it's not for an engineering firm

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and not the story. As they say, never assume.

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They have the in-production streetcars that'll work for Mattapan. They're called Green Line LRV's. The Red Line Ashmont Branch is getting a power upgrade in advance of their new car order, which will take care of the power draw needs for running LRV's on the line. Type 7's, Type 8's, Type 9's...whatever they want. The worst of the weight-restricted bridges were taken care of when the Ashmont ramp was rebuilt in the station renovation; if there are any bridges left that need to be shored up it's down to one of the Neponset River crossings, and has to be replaced sooner or later regardless of what's running on the line. The mini-high ramps installed at all stops except Valley Rd. allow for ADA-compliant boarding without the need for any low-floor vehicles (good...keep those Breda pieces of junk away from there). And the LRV's are as-is capable of accepting their power input from a trolley pole mounted on the roof instead of a pantograph; the voltage is exactly the same.

The only extra to-do's they'd have to square are:
-- Retire the too-tight Mattapan turnback loop so the LRV's change ends on the platform.
-- Upgrade the Mattapan maintenance shed to handle basic LRV maintenance. Or build a new shed on the empty section of Codman Yard @ Ashmont if Mattapan can't have its shed expanded, and demote Mattapan to plain old storage yard.
-- Resurface the track, as LRV's need to run on smoother track than a PCC. But that's a state-of-repair item they'll have to do eventually anyway, because the track is pretty worn in a lot of places.
-- Unscrew the pantograph and its mount; screw in and hook up a stock trolley pole in its place.

That's pretty much it. There's nothing oh-so-special about Mattapan preventing modern equipment from running there now that the costliest infrastructure like Asmont ramp and the upgraded power draw are either finished or funded for imminent finish. Any sane study is going to boil down the most cost-effective options to 2 choices: 1) Reassign some LRV's and sell off the PCC's, or 2) Refurb the PCC's one more time with modern components. Either of those would be way less expensive than trying to pave it over for a stupid busway, and less aggravating to Baker's hand-picked board than dealing with the shrieking from Dorchester, Mattapan, and (maybe more importantly/cynically) some pretty well-to-do Milton residential areas around the intermediate stops who delivered Baker a narrow edge in Milton in '14 (and who are used to getting what they want by virtue of being Baker's predecessor's old stomping grounds, and all the years they were the home district for ex-Speaker Finneran).

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1940s technology + CNC machines + 3d printers = what's the problem with obtaining spare parts?

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This is all a matter of political will. The solutions are there, they simply need to be implemented.

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Is this the first time a consultant was hired to present options for the line? It sounds like a study that would have already been done.

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Love those Trollies most reliable thing the T has.

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Yet somehow San Francisco's Muni can maintain and even EXPAND its current fleet of refurbished PCC cars on the F-Market line.

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Including many from Boston!

Maybe someone should pick up the phone give them a call and ask where they get their parts?

....or we could pay a consultant $500 an hour to make the same call?

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The olde timey trolleys in San francisco are tourist trolleys, they arent used as part of hte main network (the light rail trains that run below Market). I lived there for several years, and only knew tourists using them, or maybe suburbanites. They are slow and not handicap accessible. That doesnt mean the state shouldnt keep and improve the mattapan line, just that comparing working transit line to a postcard line for tourists is not the same.

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You must have lived there several years ago. The historic cars dont go in the subway but they now operate on two expanded routes, with plans for further extensions.

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Maybe they can come up with a way to lift the bodies off the frame, re-engineer the power works to fit in the old space, and there you go. This is America , we can do it . At any rate , The Presidents Conference Committee Streetcars, PCCs,

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What helps San Francisco run a lot of PCC cars (and a lot of even older streetcars) is that there is a much more mild climate there than here.

They don't have the copious quantities of salt being thrown everywhere as we do here. That's why you see a lot more classic cars around there, too.

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I mean I guess there are a couple of grade crossings, but most of the rest is just snow.

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$3 million each. They're 66 feet long, so half again as long as the PCCs, so you'd increase capacity when you need it. They have three trucks (sets of wheels), so the per-axle weight is the same as the PCCs, so the whole "the bridges will fail" argument is pretty moot. So for $18 million (five cars and a spare) they should be able to get a full new fleet (although you may need to upgrade the overhead slightly to run with pans).

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The T will tear up the tracks and replace them with buses painted green.

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