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Billion-Dollar Improvement Slated for MBTA

How the state plans to improve the aging subway system.

The MBTA will replace ancient Red and Orange Line cars starting in 2018. File photo.
The MBTA will replace ancient Red and Orange Line cars starting in 2018. File photo.
Orange and Red Line riders rejoice; The state is going to give you a nicer ride. In 2019.

Governor Deval Patrick announced a $1.3 billion plan to replace aging subway cars on both lines. The project will replace 226 cars in all, including 152 from the Orange Line and at least 74 from the Red Line. That will take some 44-year-old Red Line cars and 32-year-old Orange Line cars out of service.

"New car features include increased capacity and additional seating, wider and electrically operated doors, four accessible areas per car, LED lighting, modern HVAC systems and advanced passenger information and announcement systems," wrote the governor's staff in a press release. 

The project will take some time, however. Anyone bidding on the project must guarantee that the cars will be built in Massachusetts. That award should be made by late 2014 or early 2015. And once constructed, the state will engage in an extended pilot program to test the cars. Once that's complete, the new cars will come online in late 2018 and 2019.

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