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Future of Historic Mattapan Trolleys Still Uncertain

The 72-year-old trolley system is beloved by local riders, but difficult to maintain.
July 8, 2018, 9am PDT | Elana Eden
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Mike Knell

The fate of the historic trolley cars in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood has been at issue for more than a year. It has divided transit advocates, who favor converting the 2.5-mile line to a paved bus route, and preservationists and riders campaigning to protect the unique system.

In the Boston Globe, Adam Vaccaro and Margeaux Sippell explain the pragmatic arguments for both options. The old trolleys are expensive to maintain and at higher risk of crashes than modern systems, but appear to run smoothly and experience fewer delays. Some riders also say the trolley's nostalgic aesthetic makes the trip more enjoyable—not an unimportant consideration as public transportation struggles to attract riders nationwide.

For now, the MBTA has planned $8 million in improvements to the trolleys that will carry the system through the mid-2020s—meaning the system's fate could remain an open question for much longer.

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Published on Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Boston Globe
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