Monday's edition of Destination: Freedom had several posts about streetcars.

In Boston, the Ashmont - Mattapan High Speed Line is the last rapid transit property using Presidents Conference Committee streetcars.  That's posing problems for the Master Mechanic.  "T workers have to make some parts for the World War II-era trolleys by hand at their Everett shops. Only about 5,000 riders use the trolleys every day, less than the ridership on some bus lines."  The point of the Presidents Conference Committee was to come up with a standard streetcar design that could be deployed anywhere.  "Mod Desire" is a model of a hippie-era paint job Pittsburgh applied to at least one car.  Cars of similar vintage serve the tourist-catering car lines of Kenosha and Market Street in San Francisco, and at least one is in regular service with several nearing service at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Thus, there ought to be possibilities for the master mechanic for Boston to work with several other operators of the cars to induce a manufacturer to produce parts in commercially feasible lots.

Alternatively, Boston's managers might look at working with other transit authorities purchasing new cars to participate in their orders of rolling stock.  The controversial and questionable Washington, D.C. car line just opened.  Kansas City will get a car line in early May.  A line in the story suggests that the Presidents Conference Committee were wise in one way, creating a standard design.  "The company that made the streetcars did not deliver them as quickly as expected."  The sense I get is that each streetcar authority has its own ideas about what a streetcar is, and the companies that build streetcars and light rail vehicles have their own ideas.  We're a long way from Pullman or St. Louis Car building city cars to Presidents Conference Committee specifications.

But with Virginia Beach seeking to extend a light rail line, perhaps there are enough commonalities between what that operator wants and what Boston wants to agree on a car that can be assembled in larger lots.

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