4 thoughts on “MBTA’s Electric “Trolley” Buses to be Removed from Service Due to Road Projects

  1. Did I miss something? The overhead wires and trackless trolleys are being removed permanently, according to the info in the article. The headlines are misleading. Instead of overhead wires and trackless trolleys there will be electric/ battery-powered buses returning them. There is no mention of restoring the catenary wires, nor the trackless trolleys.

  2. The trackless trolley cars running along Belmont Street and Mount Auburn Street felt like such a luxury when I moved from Somerville to Watertown years ago. Their clean, quiet operation has been such a blessing to commuters and residents in this packed urban neighborhood!

    I have hated seeing, hearing and breathing the increase in diesel on these routes. It’s so depressing to know that diesel service will be all we’ve got for at least two solid years starting next Spring.

  3. The previous commenter is correct, the trackless trolley network is being permanently discontinued. This has been reported by the Belmontonian and Universal Hub. Commonwealth Magazine also had a very informative article about it that I would recommend checking out.

    The T is using road construction as their impetus for disassembling the trackless trolley network for good, probably because they’d like to save money on catenary maintenance. The battery buses that will eventually replace them are less environmentally efficient because they rely on diesel for heat.

    It seems like the T was also deceptive in their claim that the conversion will expand vehicle “capacity” at the garage. The truth is that the MBTA’s previous electric trolleybus fleet operating out of North Cambridge actually consisted of 50 vehicles. When the time came to replace those vehicles they chose to only order 28 trolley buses. It wasn’t like they suddenly lacked “capacity” at the facility, they just chose to downsize.

    Maybe the reason they’re increasing the fleet size now is because they’ll need the extra buses to reach service levels of the 28 trolley buses currently in use. The incoming battery buses will have a finite amount of time they can serve on a route before having to return to the garage to recharge, particularly in cold weather. Of course they could have avoided that obstacle by either retaining the catenary and continuing to use trolley buses or by investing in an in-motion charging battery bus fleet.

    But all that aside, as the article states it’s their hope to transition the fleet systemwide to 100% battery electric buses in the next 18 years. While that’s most definitely a positive piece of news given the alternative of diesel, I do have to question how they’ve gone about prioritizing the transition.

    Just across the river from where the 71 picks up passengers in the square the T is running 100% pure diesel buses at Watertown Yard. The reason? The garage that the 57, 59, and express routes run out of (Albany) is so obsolete that they can’t even service the diesel hybrid vehicles, let alone accommodate a battery fleet. I would argue that the phasing out of those vehicles and making needed renovations at that garage should be a far more urgent priority than messing with the trackless trolley system, but it’s not nearly as high on their list. This whole thing is just another chapter in the T’s long-standing tradition of poor decision making.

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