Goodbye Trolleys: MBTA Prepares For Rechargeable Buses On 73 Line By 2024 With 2 Yrs Of Diesel Vehicles Starting In March

Photo: Goodbye, old friend: The trackless trolley will run for the final time in March.

One of Belmont’s most notable features, the MBTA’s trackless trolley with the accompanying electric wires running nearly the entire length of the town along Belmont Street and Trapelo Road, will be coming to an end in March after more than 60 years in service.

As part of the MBTA’s modernization plan for bus travel, the heavily-used 73 bus line from Harvard to Waverley squares will be serviced by a fleet of new electric-powered buses that will be recharged at the T’s bus service facility in North Cambridge thus making the overhead cables obsolete, said Patrice Garvin, town administrator in a report to the Select Board on Monday, Jan. 24.

The town was notified last week the final trackless trolley trip will travel through Belmont sometime in March, said Garvin.

But until the MBTA completes a two-year refitting of its facility to allow for recharging to take place, Belmont commuters and travelers will be hopping on the authority’s diesel buses, similar to those running on the 75 line from Harvard Square to Belmont Center. At that time, the cables will be removed.

”So [the MBTA is] saying they’re gonna take down the electric wires that run the electric buses to run diesel buses to convert to electric buses which makes zero sense. Welcome to the MBTA,” said Board Chair Adam Dash.

While Dash noted any work to remove the cables will be “massively disruptive” for residents, Community Development Director Glenn Clancy said with his experience with the MBTA on the Trapelo Road Reconstruction project, it’s likely that work will be done at night when volumes are down.

The trackless trolley – a bus retrofitted to use the overhead cables – replaced the historic streetcars in the 1940s that ran on rail tracks along the same route for nearly 75 years. The rails were never removed and lie under the blacktop along the route.

A history of the trackless trolley era in and around Boston – with several mentions of Belmont – can be found on the Boston Streetcars website.

Streetcar #396, built for Boston’s West End Street Railway in 1900. Converted to an electrical test car in 1922, it was sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum in 1954. In 1962, the MTA restored it to its 1915 appearance (BERy livery) for the film The Cardinal, with scenes filmed in Belmont. (Credit: Elizabeth K. Joseph from San Francisco, United States, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

New ‘Fast Food’ Eatery, Market Coming To Former Seta’s Site On Belmont Street

Photo: The former Seta’s will soon become a “fast food” eatery with a new market/convenience store next door

An establishment doling out “fast food” will be opening in the next few weeks on Belmont Street at the corner of Newton. But don’t expect another Dunkins’ or a franchise operation coming to the Town of Homes.

To owner Zohreh Beheshti, the fast food she’ll be serving is an eclectic variety of specialty dishes – fried chicken, deli sandwiches, dairy samples, falafel “and maybe hamburgers … and coffee.”

On Monday, March 8, the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special permit under the zoning bylaws to operate a fast-food restaurant, joining an international market the couple are about to open next door.

The store – which will sell Middle Eastern staples and spices along with the usual convenience store fare – is located at 273-5 Belmont and the 16-seat restaurant will be at 271 Belmont taking over the former Seta’s Cafe (which closed in September 2019) located across Newton Street from Sophia’s Greek Pantry. The businesses will be connected in the rear so employees can move between the two locations.

Parking will be in the rear of the building off of Newton. The town said the new store will run on the same hours as Seta’s: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Beheshti and her husband are running Roksana’s Persian Foods, a small 800-square foot storefront at 509 Mt. Auburn in Watertown.

“My customers actually pushed me to do this and that’s why we’re doing this,” said Beheshti

Even before opening, Beheshti has her fans in town as the board was bombarded with supportive emails and one town employee can attest to the food she sells.

“I’m just gonna warn everyone here that anything from her store that’s called gata is very fattening,” said Ara Yogurtian, assistant director of the town’s Planning Division. “It’s full of butter, full of sugar; it’s so tasty that once you begin [you can’t stop],” he said.

Belmont Street Undergoes Restoration, July 6-10

Photo: Map of Belmont Street to be restored next week

Approximately third-quarters of a mile of Belmont Street will be under construction beginning Monday, July 6 to restore the roadway which was dug up late last year.

Bannon Paving of Hyde Park will be grinding and overlaying this large second on Belmont Street from the Watertown line on Lexington Street to Common Street for the entire week from July 6 to July 10.

The work will repair the street impacted by the installation of new PVC gas-main installed by National Grid/Feeney Brothers late last construction season to connect the new Toll Brothers development in Cushing Square.

Police To Enforce Parking Bylaws Along Lower Belmont Street Starting June 3

Photo: Map of the enforcement area (Belmont Police)

The law is coming to the Wild, Wild West of parking known as the lower section of Belmont Street.

Due to long-standing complaints of vehicles and commuters habitually ignoring the town’s parking bylaws along the eastern end of the main traffic artery, Belmont Police will begin vigorously enforcing the parking code beginning Monday, June 3.

The enforcement area will run from School to Ericsson streets and will include both sides of Belmont Street which the town has jurisdiction.

The town’s Parking Control Officers will enforce:

• all posted parking signs such as “1 or 2 hour parking limits” and “no parking to the corner”,

• MBTA bus stops, and

• unposted parking bylaws including no parking within 20 feet of an intersection, blocking bike lanes, driveways or fire hydrants.

Aftermath: One Store Gone, Others to Return after Belmont Street Blaze

Photo: The day after a fire destroyed Jimmy’s Food Mart.

The acrid smell from a fire that destroyed a Belmont Street convenient store Saturday night, April 18, remained in the air Sunday morning as an emergency services business was preparing to board up the burned out structure.

The interior of Jimmy’s Food Mart, at 297 Belmont St., was black and scorched, the food and fixtures burned, illuminated by the sunlight coming through the collapsed roof, the result of a three-alarm fire that began in the back of the store around 7:30 p.m. 

The blaze – which sent flames high into the air at the corner of Belmont and School streets – brought fire equipment in from Watertown, Cambridge and Waltham resulting in closing the major thoroughfare. 

While Jimmy’s is considered a loss, owners of the half dozen small businesses came by to enter their offices and stores to view how much damage they sustained. While the fire was substantial, the fast work by fire fighters and the structure of the building prevented an ever greater loss.

“It doesn’t appear that bad because of the fire wall and how quick the [fire departments] fought the fire,” said one business owner who did not want to be identified.

Many of the store fronts had front doors open to begin the process of airing out their businesses and discover how much water damage they had sustained. Owners were approached by cleaning and information recovery firms to help in the process.

When asked if his firm could be up and running after utilities are back, the owner said “Yes, that’s a possibility.”