MBTA Delay: $8 Million Trolley Project Behind Schedule Again

The 1940s era trolleys on the Mattapan-Ashmont line were originally supposed to get modern upgrades in 2019, but the NBC10 Boston Investigators reported the $8 million project was two years behind schedule. After the story, T officials said the first refurbished trolley would be back on the tracks in August, but there is still plenty of work to do.

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Over the weekend, crews at the MBTA moved the first refurbished 1940s-era trolley from a warehouse in Everett back to its home in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood.

The milestone was already long overdue. And when NBC10 Boston stopped by the transit station on Monday to get a look, it was clear there is still plenty of work left to do.



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New body work and paint were evident on the historic trolley’s exterior. But on the inside, much of the interior components—floor, ceiling, electrical and seating—remained unfinished.

NBC10 Boston
Crews moved a trolley from a warehouse in Everett to a station in Mattapan

It is yet another delay for an $8 million project that was supposed to be completed in 2019.

However, as the NBC10 Boston Investigators first reported last May, the stripped-down shells of the first two trolleys pulled from service were still sitting in the warehouse.

At the time, the T attributed the delay to an extensive lead paint removal process, along with reduced manpower during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency told NBC10 Boston the first refurbished trolley would be back on the tracks in August. The other would be carrying passengers by October.

But that timetable is being pushed back again.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley, who has taken the trolley since she was a middle school student. "Not just for myself, but for all residents of the community."

One of the trolley shells sitting in an MBTA warehouse in Everett

Fluker Oakley was one of the state lawmakers that pressed for answers after our investigation. The MBTA told elected leaders the first trolley would be back in service by the fall.

"I guess the definition of fall is a little squishy," Fluker Oakley remarked. "I have questions not just about the timetable, but what people power do they have committed to this project? And what are the communication methods to let me, other elected officials and the community know the progress?"

In response to our questions, MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo acknowledged the disappointment the trolley overhaul schedule slipping.

"The technical complexities of retrofitting a 75-year-old vehicle with modern technologies cannot be overstated," Pesaturo said in a statement. "The MBTA is well aware there is much anticipation in the communities along the Mattapan Line, and the T looks forward to putting two rebuilt cars in service this year."

Pesaturo said the goal is to refurbish the remaining six trolleys and returning them to service before ridership rebounds to pre-pandemic levels.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@nbcuni.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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