Old cars, some dating back to the Nixon presidency, were trucked away to the junkyard

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It was the last trip Thursday morning for dozens of Orange Line train cars being retired from MBTA service, some after more than 40 years of riding on the tracks that stretch from Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills neighborhood to Oak Grove in Malden.

The cars, some in service since the Nixon administration in the 1970s, are being replaced by “more modern, more efficient and more spacious vehicles,” as part of the MBTA’s $9.6 billion investment to overhaul the T service.

Most passengers on the Orange Line Monday morning were comfortable riding the new cars. the organization introduced 60 cars into service configured in 10 trains.

The mass introduction of the new cars coincided with the reopening of the service after an unprecedented 30-day line shutdown that allowed the agency to work around the clock to address safety issues and complete a laundry list of construction projects.

More: MBTA Green, Orange queues and running after a 30-day hiatus, commuters were excited

Passengers had already seen the new cars earlier in the spring. However, the MBTA pulled them from service after several malfunctions were discovered, including a battery problem and improperly installed brake bolts on seven of the cars.

As part of the safety review, the MBTA revamped the protocol for accepting vehicles as they are delivered to service by CRRC MA Corp., a Chinese company that manufactures the cars in Springfield.

Little problems happen

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said the new process can detect and intercept problems before the cars are deployed. But even with the new protocols, issues can still occur. one of the new cars experienced a door malfunction Tuesday, and the entire train was pulled from service, according to the MBTA. Passengers boarded the next train.

It was a minor issue, according to the MBTA, that was isolated to a door on an entire six-car train and returned to service Wednesday morning.

The retirees were trucked to Middleboro, where Costello Dismantling Company will turn them into scrap.

The agency has also ordered 100 new trolleys, Type 10 “Super Cars,” for the Green Line from CAF USA Inc., an $810 million contract to design and build the trolleys. Currently in the planning phase, the new cars could be on the expanded Green Line by 2026.

“This is an incredible moment that marks a turning point for MBTA Green Line riders as we continue to work to transform the entire line,” Poftak said earlier in September. “The Type 10 ‘supercars’ will not only provide more capacity (they are 40 feet longer than existing cars) and a more spacious track for the nation’s busiest train line, but also include the latest safety technology, accessibility improvements (wider doors ) and other upgrades that improve the rider experience.”

Intermittent closures along the Green Line

A portion of the Green Line from Government Center to Union Square was also closed for the same 30-day period as the Orange Line as construction continued to complete the extension through Medford. Those five stations — three new stations in Somerville and two in Medford — are expected to be open to riders by the end of 2022.

Portions of the D-Branch of the Green Line will be closed intermittently throughout the fall beginning September 24 as the MBTA addresses track issues and the installation of the Green Line train protection system. There will be three nine-day closures until the end of October.

Other Green Line branches were closed during the summer, including the B, C and E branches with the E-branch closed for 16 days for track replacement and protection system installation.

Demolition work at the government center garage in June also prompted the MBTA to temporarily shut down shutter service on both the Orange and Green lines to protect the safety of workers and riders as the structure was demolished.

It’s been a trying summer for the MBTA and its customers.

The review of the FTA identifies problems of the organization

The Federal Transit Administration spent months reviewing the service and its operations after finding a “higher overall rate of reported safety incidents” compared to other transit systems nationwide.

The incidents and accidents included a train fire in July that forced the evacuation of about 200 riders on a bridge over the Mystic River on the Orange Line, train cars in different car yards and a door malfunction that caused a sliding death, among others .

The resulting FTA safety report, issued Aug. 31, identified several issues that contributed to the deficiencies at the MBTA. These included a finding that the state Department of Public Utilities (DPU) failed to adequately oversee the agency and also failed to flex its regulatory powers to ensure problems identified in a 2019 report were addressed. This 2019 report was an earlier look at the system by an independent safety committee convened by the MBTA’s Financial Management and Control Board.

The agency viewed many of the incidents and accidents on the MBTA as isolated or egregious incidents rather than a systemic failure of the entire system.

In its August report, the FTA also cited massive cuts of “hundreds of millions of dollars” from operations and maintenance budgets from 2015 to 2019. Those cuts have resulted in insufficient staffing to effectively run the agency, an over-reliance on overtime , and overworked and undertrained staff.

FTA also highlighted the agency’s decision to prioritize the implementation of its capital projects over passengers, preventive maintenance and even safety.

According to the report, the agency has a shortfall of nearly 800 employees, from engineers to dispatchers, auto maintenance crews to drivers. Signs on MBTA vehicles indicate the agency is hiring and invite riders to apply for positions ranging from hands-on work to clerical positions and everything in between.

But investment in the MBTA has increased recently, with state lawmakers voting $600 million into the agency before the end of its session in July.

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