Earlier this week, I was able to see the benefits realized from my first vote. My first vote in the legislature increased the gas tax by 6 cents and directed the money to the transportation fund. Governor Patrick, as anticipated, immediately used the money to sign contracts to purchase new orange and red line trains (as well as green line trains and buses). The current administration continued this program, which is finally bearing fruit.
I toured one of the first new orange line trains that has been delivered to the MBTA. The MBTA has received six phototypes that it is currently testing. The inside of the train is pictured. (The bags are filled with sand to represent the weight of people for testing.) The MBTA currently is on pace to start adding the new trains to its fleet in January 2019. In December 2018, it will start receiving four new trains a month, which it will test and, if they pass, add to the fleet as well. The pace will continue until it received 150 new orange line trains.
Currently, the orange line runs 96 cars each morning and night. The MBTA hopes in the near term to increase that to between 102-108 with the addition of the new cars. Over time, as the entire fleet is replaced, the MBTA will also replace the signaling system for the trains. The new signaling system will allow it to run more trains at one time, maybe as many as 120 at a time. Each train can hold 1500 passengers, which is the same as the current trains, so additional trains are the way we will add capacity.
The MBTA anticipates delivery of the first red line trains next April and the introduction of them to the fleet by November 2019. The MBTA has a similar plan to add four new trains each month until the fleet is all new. The red line trains will have more capacity than the current ones (they are larger). In addition, the MBTA is purchasing new signaling systems for the red line to allow more trains to run at a time. Again, this will greatly increase the capacity of the red line.
The MBTA also required the manufacturer to use the same components for the red and orange line trains. This will help in the future with repairs. Currently, there is one type of orange line train and several models of red line trains – each differs from each other as well as from the orange line. The MBTA needs to hand-make many replacement components because it cannot place large enough orders for anyone to manufacture them as the parts are specialized for the different types of trains it has. Having two fleets will the same parts will help to avoid this situation in the future.
It is great to finally start to see the results I anticipated when I took this vote so many years ago.