Boston streetcar collision puts historic PCC route in a pinch

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A late December crash removed two of Boston's remaining PCC cars from service.
Justin Franz
BOSTON — A collision between two Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority streetcars last week means the agency is down to just five operating PCCs on the Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line.

The two PCCs that were damaged in the collision near the Cedar Grove station on Dec. 29 have joined three other historic streetcars in the MBTA deadline at Mattapan. With five PCCs out-of-service, the agency has reduced service on the 2.6-mile route through Dorchester, Mass. This week, the Mattapan line was running with four PCCs and one standby.

“Customers should expect to wait during rush hour approximately six and a half minutes between trolleys rather than 5 minutes. The MBTA appreciates the patience of our customers as we work to restore regular service to the Mattapan line,” officials tell Trains News Wire.

MBTA has struggled in recent years to maintain service on the Mattapan route, the last line in the city to still use PCCs from the 1930s and 1940s. In 2017, it announced it would spend nearly $8 million to upgrade some of the PCCs to ensure they can run at least another decade, while simultaneously studying whether or not to eventually replace the historic streetcars with buses. MBTA officials have said getting parts for the fleet of 10 PCCs is nearly impossible at times and on occasion they have had to buy parts from museums.

MBTA officials say that last week’s collision was the result of an “operator error.” More than a dozen people were injured when two cars ran into each other last Friday.
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