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.