MBTA makes medium-term commitment to Mattapan trolley line

The Boston Globe | By Nicole Dungca
February 28, 2017

The historic 70-year-old trolleys used on the high-speed line that runs through Dorchester, Milton, and Mattapan will ride the tracks until at least the early 2020s, after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pledged $7.9 million to give the aging streetcars an overhaul.

On Monday, MBTA officials announced plans to equip the trolleys with new propulsion, brakes, and power supply systems, and spend $1.1 million to study the future of the Mattapan line.

Supporters have feared that the MBTA will phase out the beloved trolleys, which have become more costly to maintain with each passing year, and welcomed the upgrade.

“They’re essential to the character of our communities,” state Representative Dan Cullinane, a Democrat who represents several neighborhoods served by the line, said at the MBTA’s fiscal and management control board’s weekly meeting. “This is a big win for all those who rely on and support the Mattapan high-speed line.”

The high-speed line — so named because its route is intersected only twice by city streets — opened in 1929. Its 10 trolleys, which rolled out of the factory in 1945 and 1946, are the last of their kind, and MBTA machinists must often make replacement parts, or contact museums for spares.

“With this investment, we feel relatively confident that this will get us out to the early 2020s, and give us enough time to do the due diligence study to make the right decision on the future of the line,” said Jeffrey Gonneville, the MBTA’s chief operating officer.

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