MBTA removing Route 71, 73 trolley buses from service

A web of wires that hangs over Harvard Square in Cambridge will not be around for much longer, as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is eliminating electric-powered trolleybuses from service. transported people through Cambridge, Watertown and Belmont for nearly 90 years. Major road projects that are planned in Cambridge and Watertown, however, would require a five-and-half-year shut down of the catenary wire system used to power the MBTA’s only remaining trolley bus service on Routes 71 and 73.Because of this, and the MBTA’s plans for a new North Cambridge facility, the transit authority will be removing the catenary wire system in preparation for a fleet of battery-electric buses.Starting Sunday, the trolleybuses on Routes 71 and 73 will be replaced with diesel-hybrid buses for two years before battery-electric buses are brought in on those routes starting in the spring of 2024.MBTA bus riders traveling from Cambridge to Watertown and Belmont spoke with NewsCenter 5 about the move away from trolleybuses. Those riders had mixed views about the change, touching on practicality to nostalgia.”Changing it over to electric would be perfect,” said Matthew Kennedy. “I’ve been in that bus before where the back has come off and they have to stop it. So no, I’m not shocked that that stopped at all.” removing all that stuff. It’s not good, man, because I like the streetcars. I love the streetcars,” Ryan Harris said.”It’s about time. It’s slow. Very slow,” Top Prakitsri said. “I take the bus here to Belmont … it should be faster.”The MBTA said the new North Cambridge facility will feature charging stations for the battery-electric buses.The transit authority also said it has a goal to make its entire fleet of 1,150 nozzles operated by battery-electric power by the year 2040.

A web of wires that hangs over Harvard Square in Cambridge will not be around for much longer, as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is eliminating electric-powered trolleybuses from service.

The trolleybuses, which run on overhead wires called catenary wires instead of tracks, have transported people through Cambridge, Watertown and Belmont for nearly 90 years.

Major road projects that are planned in Cambridge and Watertown, however, would require a five-and-half-year shut down of the catenary wire system used to power the MBTA’s only remaining trolley bus service on Routes 71 and 73.

Because of this, and the MBTA’s plans for a new North Cambridge facility, the transit authority will be removing the catenary wire system in preparation for a fleet of battery-electric buses.

Starting Sunday, the trolleybuses on Routes 71 and 73 will be replaced with diesel-hybrid buses for two years before battery-electric buses are brought in on those routes starting in the spring of 2024.

MBTA bus riders traveling from Cambridge to Watertown and Belmont spoke with NewsCenter 5 about the move away from trolleybuses. Those riders had mixed views about the change, touching on practicality to nostalgia.

“Changing it over to electric would be perfect,” said Matthew Kennedy. “I’ve been in that bus before where the back has come off and they have to stop it. So no, I’m not shocked that that stopped at all.”

“I like the trolley cars now. I heard they’re removing all that stuff. It’s not good, man, because I like the streetcars. I love the streetcars,” Ryan Harris said.

“It’s about time. It’s slow. Very slow,” Top Prakitsri said. “I take the bus here to Belmont…it should be faster.”

The MBTA said the new North Cambridge facility will feature charging stations for the battery-electric buses.

The transit authority also said it has a goal to make its entire fleet of 1,150 buses operated by battery-electric power by the year 2040.

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