The Works

Boston Officials Fight to Keep Mattapan Trolley

Plus L.A. Metro proposes ambitious expansion, and more in our weekly New Starts.

Mattapan trolley (Photo by Derek Yu)

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Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Boston Officials Fight to Keep Mattapan Trolley
The Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars that work the Ashmont-Mattapan rail shuttle in Boston’s Dorchester section are getting long in the tooth, and replacement parts have to be ordered from a nearby trolley museum that can make them. Even so, a group of elected officials are pressing the MassDOT Fiscal and Management Control Board to approve a $3 million appropriation to continue operating the line as a trolley. According to a story in the Dorchester Reporter, the officials have attached to their request a plea that the line remain a trolley rather than be converted to bus rapid transit, an option the board is considering for its future.

Seven members of Boston City Council, two Massachusetts state senators and one state representative signed the letter urging both the funding and keeping the line as a trolley. The letter argues that converting the line to bus operation would depress property values, lower the quality of service for the line’s thousands of daily riders and, perhaps most importantly, torpedo a mixed-use, mixed-income residential-retail project slated for the Mattapan station parking lot. One of the two developers who submitted proposals in response to a request from the MBTA told the Reporter earlier that if the MBTA converted the Mattapan line to bus operation, it would not proceed with the project.

World’s Longest Tram to Enter Service in Hungary
According to an article in the Global Rail News, the Budapest transit agency BKK has received approval to begin operating what is believed to be the longest streetcar in the world.

CAF Urbos 3 tram in Budapest (Photo by Hunyadym)

The new CAF Urbos 3 trams BKK has ordered are 56 meters (183.7 feet) long. That’s a little longer than three 60-foot articulated buses or nearly as long as three 67-foot-long rapid transit cars. BKK ordered 12 of the cars and has received nine of them, with the remaining three set to be delivered in the next few months. BKK says that now that it has the license to run the trams, the first units should go into service by the end of this month. The agency already runs a shorter, 34-meter (111.5-foot) version of the Urbos 3.

L.A. Proposes Another Ambitious Expansion Plan
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has released a transit expansion plan that promises new or improved lines throughout the region, including a tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass that would help unclog one of the worst bottlenecks in the region with a new toll road and rail line.

To pay for it all, the agency plans to put a $120 billion, 40-year sales tax hike on the ballot in November. If approved, the measure would extend an existing half-cent sales tax for another 20 years and add an additional half-cent tax for 40 years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

One-third of the proceeds would go toward building five new transit lines and extending at least six others currently in operation or under construction. The cost of the Sepulveda Pass tunnel is estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion.

If approved by two-thirds of the voters, the measure would raise the county’s base sales tax rate to 9.5 percent. Critics of the measure point out that Metro has had problems with cost overruns and delays on its current construction projects and that the agency is making the proposal while ridership on its buses and trains is falling.

Eglinton Crosstown Construction Begins
Railway Track and Structures carries a story that construction has begun on Keelesdale station, the first of 25 underground and surface stations for Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT line. Ground was broken for the underground station, which had been called Keele as planning for the line proceeded, on March 10.

Keelesdale station rendering (Credit: Metrolinx)

The Eglinton Crosstown line is the largest public transit construction project now underway in Canada and the largest single rapid transit expansion project in the Greater Toronto area in more than half a century.

According to the project website, the station will have three entrances, one fully accessible, an off-street bus loop to serve Toronto Transit Commission buses, on-street TTC bus connections, 60 bicycle parking spaces and public plazas at each entrance. The province of Ontario has invested C$5.3 billion ($4.01 billion U.S.) toward the line’s cost.

Metrolinx, the umbrella transportation agency for the Toronto-Hamilton region, and Infrastructure Ontario are jointly building the line, which is expected to open for service in 2021.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: transportation spendingtaxestrolleys

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