At 11:33 AM on Friday, March 16, 2007 Boeing-Vertol LRVs 3485 and 3499 left Riverside to make the last revenue run of Boeing LRVs. Around a dozen railfans showed up to photograph, videotape, and ride the final trip from Riverside to Government Center and back.
The Boeing LRV, also known as the US Standard Light Rail Vehicle, was designed in the 1970s to be a replacement for the aging PCC cars on the nation's few surviving trolley systems. Boston's MBTA and San Francisco's MUNI were the only buyers, eventually receiving 144 and 131 cars, respectively (31 of MUNI's were originally built for the MBTA). The first revenue runs occurred on December 29, 1976 on the T, which pressed them into service during a snowstorm.
The cars turned out to be maintenance nightmares, forcing the T to rebuild many of its PCC cars to maintain service levels. PCCs remained in service on the Green Line until the arrival of the Type 7s in the 1980s.
In the mid-1990s 55 the T had 55 Boeings overhauled by Amerail, ironically so they could maintain service levels while the Type 8s were delivered. During the overhaul, the original trouble-prone plug-doors (needed by MUNI in its subway) were replaced with traditional blinker doors. In their final years, these cars operated on the C and D Lines, providing most of the service on the former and boosting peak service on the latter (often running in 3-car trains, which are otherwise not seen on the Green Line). After January 1, 2006 they were bumped off the C Line by Type 8s and finished out their last 15 months exclusively on the D Line, where their stability at high speeds gave them an advantage on the long stretches between stations.
Around a dozen survived in revenue service into 2007. On March 6, 2007 the brakes on 3500 locked up, delaying service on the Riverside Branch for over half an hour, and the remaining 6 Boeings were promptly removed from service. The two mentioned at the top of the page were reactivated the following week and made a single round trip each day on March 13, 15, and 16 after the morning peak was over.
Besides six cars which will be retained for an unknown period as a contingency fleet, three Boeings will remain on the Green Line as work cars: 3417, converted to a rerailer car in 1994/5 and stored on a siding between Boylston and Arlington; 3453, converted to a MOW car in 1995/6 and stored at Reservoir; and 3448, converted to a track geometry car in 2005 and stored at Riverside. The first two cars were converted at the same time as the Boeing overhaul program, but retain their plug-doors. While these cars will likely remain in work service for years to come, the current scarcity of parts suggests they will not be as long-lived as the two 1907-built Type 3 snowplows. Seashore Trolley Museum is attempting to acquire one of the other remaining Boeings; news on that can be found here.
On this page are my photos of the last Boeing trip, as well as a few from two days earlier of the dead line at Riverside. Some other photos of Boeings in service can be found on my pages for the Riverside Branch and Boylston Street Station.