Trolley Settlement To Aid Green Line

The Boeing Vertol Company will repair and replace the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's (MBTA) light rail vehicles (LRV) on the Green Line, and give $40 million to the MBTA under a settlement reached last week.

The company will repair or replace the 135 LRVs that the MBTA has already bought, but the MBTA is not required to buy an additional 40 cars it had contracted for.

The Boeing vehicles have a history of instability, derailments, and mechanical problems, State Rep. Lincoln P. Cole Jr., Vice Chairman of the MBTA's advisory board, said yesterday. Problems with the LRVs' stability and jumping the tracks made them originally a "bad deal," Cole added.

4000 Moving Parts

"Boeing was not in the trolley car business originally, so it's not surprising that their first try wasn't that good. I heard the doors in those cars have 4000 moving parts; you have to figure something will go wrong," he said.


Cole said MBTA chairman Robert L. Foster inherited most of the MBTA's problems--problems that have led Foster to seek supplementary funds from the advisory board for this year's MBTA budget.

Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Barry Locke said last night the settlement money will be used "for lease or purchase of rolling stock on the Green Line."

He added that the MBTA is looking into Canadian LRV's, which could be used on a demonstration basis as early as January. But he said riders on the Green Line will not have optimum service for at least a year.

"We're not going to rush into a deal with another Light Rail Vehicle manufacturer until the vehicle has proven reliable," Locke said.

He said the selectmen will probably ask to meet with MBTA officials hoping for assurances that Foster will spend the settlement appropriately. Locke added that the MBTA might use the funds for regular expenses and payroll accounts instead of providing better service.

Earlier this fall the town of Brookline had threatened to sue the MBTA if Foster channeled too much settlement money into general operating expenses. Town Counsel David L. Turner agreed not to file suit until the settlement was concluded.

Turner said last night he will meet tonight with Brookline selectmen to discuss whether to file suit. He said the town wants to be sure the money is used to buy new LRVs for the Green Line.

"That's where it's needed, and we think it should be spent on new Light Rail Vehicles," he said. "We will discuss how to ensure that something decent will come of this agreement."

State Rep. Louis D. Nickinello said yesterday he is delighted with the agreement. "We can use that money plus what we'll get from the federal government to improve service. The settlement should satisfy communities like Brookline," he added.

Cole said Foster deserves credit for settling with Boeing out of court. "After all," he said, "if he's going to get the blame for everything bad that's happened, he should get some praise for the good."

But James H. Quinn, president of the North Cambridge Planning Team, said yesterday that public pressure forced the MBTA to act quickly to get the Green Line moving faster.

"I don't think the MBTA was going to do anything until the heat started coming," he said. "I think they were going to chalk that (repairs and extra maintenance) up to just another loss."

Quinn added that protests in Cambridge over excessive spending for Red Line construction encouraged other communities to speak about costs. He said the advisory board may eventually set monthly or quarterly budgets so the MBTA improves its accountability to the public.

Cambridge Mayor Thomas W. Danehy said yesterday he would like to see the settlement money used for shuttle buses to transport trolley bus riders from the bus stop by Cambridge Common to the temporary Eliot Station. He added that increased shuttle service would eliminate the wintry walk between the stops, a potential health hazard for the elderly.