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image003-2The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board was briefed Monday on a plan to invest $7.9 million to fully overhaul its existing Presidential Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars with new propulsion, brakes, and power supply systems.

The plan would extend the life of the Mattapan-Ashmont Station High Speed Line vehicles, also known as the “Mattapan trolley.”

This investment over the next two years will maintain the historical significance of the distinctive orange and cream-colored cars, and also includes a study of options for the future of the line. A series of public meetings will also be held in April in Dorchester, Mattapan and Milton.

“These historic vehicles are among the very last of many thousands that operated in major cities across the United States, and are beloved by many residents in the communities they serve,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve.

“The Mattapan Trolley Line is a critical transportation link for residents in my district,” said State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. “The MBTA’s investment of $7.9 million to the existing cars will keep them viable for the next decade, while the $1.1 million Due Diligence Survey will take a holistic look at the long-term solutions for the trolley line. I have advocated for investment and sustainability of the Mattapan Trolley for over 12 years and am elated a roadmap will be created to ensure this crucial piece of infrastructure continues to serve the residents of Mattapan, Dorchester and Milton.”

“The Mattapan High Speed Trolley Line provides a crucial public transportation link to residents of Milton,” said State Senator Walter Timilty. “I am pleased to see the MBTA invest in both maintaining the line’s existing cars and reviewing options for updates to its infrastructure. I look forward to working together with the MBTA and my colleagues at the State House to not only preserve an essential element of the region’s history but to also ensure access to public transit extends to future generations.”

“The Mattapan Trolley Line is important not just for its daily function – connecting more than 4,600 residents to the Red Line and Bus System – but for what it represents – a tangible connection to our community’s history,” said State Representative Dan Cullinane. “The Mattapan Trolley Line is a bright spot. It provides a consistent and reliable public transit link for the residents of Mattapan, Milton and Dorchester and is vital to our local economy. For the past year, Mattapan, Dorchester and Milton elected officials and residents have collectively advocated for increased investment in the Mattapan Line and I am grateful to the MBTA’s Fiscal Management Control Board for not just listening, but acting, with today’s state investment of $7.9 million dollars. We can all celebrate this as a big win for those who rely on and support the Mattapan High Speed Trolley Line.”

“The Mattapan trolley has been an integral transportation connection for constituents for many years,” said State Representative Russell E. Holmes. “It is great to know that MassDOT has approved the investment needed to provide the maintenance needed to make the PCC Cars reliable. MassDOT will next do the long term planning and evaluations to develop proposals for the community to consider the next generation solution that will provide service for future generations”

Because of their age, the MBTA’s PCC fleet requires constant repair and replacement of parts that are no longer available on the market, and must be manufactured by MBTA machinists at the T’s Everett shops. Parts have also been obtained from museums, all adding to the overall cost of repairs. The fleet consists of 10 cars, of which 7 are in revenue service.

The Mattapan HSL opened in 1929 and is known for its distinctive streetcars, whose use dates back to the mid-1940s. The partially grade-separated light rail line services parts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Milton. While one of the shortest existing trolley lines, it is popular among many because it still uses PCC cars and offers some surprisingly scenic views.

The line follows the right-of-way of two former Old Colony Railroad branches, and runs parallel to the Neponset River for much of its 2.6-mile route. The line serves Mattapan Station, Capen Street Station, Valley Road Station, Central Avenue Station, Milton Station, Butler Station, Cedar Grove Station, and Ashmont Station.

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