EVERETT (CBS) – For years, the MBTA has been a punching bag for frustrated commuters. The T is undergoing a transformation, spending billions for new trains and new tracks. Some trains won’t be new, but they’ll be new to you.
A long dice toss away from the glitzy new Everett casino, a littered lot of rusty parts leads to the front door of the MBTA Main Repair Shop.
“It is a huge playground,” said shop superintendent Ed Belanger. “It is a toy store.”
To most, it looks like neither, but for Belanger, a walking encyclopedia with suspenders, this place has it all.
Ed is the superintendent watching over the shop. “I get to be involved in making stuff that’s never existed before,” Belanger said. “It’s awesome.”
For the MBTA, making new parts from scratch and refurbishing old parts is a must. Take an old wheel, grind off the rust, make it shiny and new and save money.
“There’s a cost savings of about $700 a part by refurbishing it instead of buying new,” Belanger explained.
Some MBTA trains and trolleys are so old, you simply can’t buy replacement parts.
The Mattapan trolley line has trolleys from 1937. The T just began restoring the historic line. WBZ got to see the first two trolleys out of eight that are set to be remodeled. They sit completely stripped down in a bus garage with no paint to cover up the rust.
Standing in the rusted out shell of a trolley built in the 1930s, where you have to watch every step so you don’t plummet through the floor, it’s easy to wonder, ‘Why not just scrap it all and start new?’ It’s a way to save money and people like the look of the old trolley cars.
They will root out the rust, paint them up nice, and then stick brand new propulsion systems underneath. The MBTA bought 16 of the new propulsion trucks, two for each trolley car, at a total investment of $4 million.
“They’re going to be the same trolleys they were before, but they’ll run better,” Belanger said. “The subway Main Repair Facility can fix anything but a broken heart.”