The LRV: Beginning and End
Welcome to the First Exhibit of the BTeM
Welcome to the very first exhibit of the Boston Transit eMuseum at TransitHistory. Our mission is to provide our visitors with comprehensive, pictoral lessons and stories in Boston's rich transportation history. Use the links below to explore different documents and photo albums relating to the beginning and end of the LRV. Each page features similar thumbnails, which allow you to navigate through each album or document. You can always return to this page by clicking "LRV Main" in the top left, or return to the BTeM by clicking "BTeM Home". Enjoy!

In the 1970's, the call was growing louder for a new streetcar to replace aging fleets of 1930's-built streetcars. Simultaneously, awareness of public transportation was also growing, thanks to increased amounts of automobile traffic and related concerns. In response, Boeing Vertol, in cooperation with several transit agencies and the United States Urban Mass Transportation Administration, developed the Standard Light Rail Vehicle, which promised a new era in light rail transit.

"Since World War II, metropolitan planners have concentrated on accommodating automobiles -- the prime movers. However, increasing numbers of automobiles have overwhelmed the central cores of our cities. Increasing land and construction costs make it impractical to accommodate automobile traffic. In addition, problems involving ecology and the general discomfort of urban congestion are multiplying: as much as 40% of downtown land must be allocated to the automobile; many policemen must be diverted to traffic duty; congestion clogs the streets; cities are forced to dispose of abandoned cars. In medium sized cities (1/2 to 1-1/2 million people), the bus no longer provides adequate long-haul transportation from residential to urban areas. They must comete with automobiles for congested space, and add to the ecological impact. The full-scale subway/elevated rapid transit system is usually too expensive for this size city. The need for a viable transportation system operating between these extremes is real and immediate." -- Boeing Vertol SLRV Literature

The Standard Light Rail Vehicle was the product of this challenge, and the plans of Boeing Vertol were ambitious. Their hope was that the LRV would become the streetcar of choice for some of the biggest cities in the country, and Boston and San Francisco were the start. Unfortunately, this dream was never realized, and a series of problems, from design flaws to reliability issues, would scar the image of the LRV forever. In this exhibit, we will examine the literature and documents relating to the design and implementation of the LRV in Boston and San Francisco, as well as take the final revenue ride of the LRV in the world, over thirty years after they began their lives.

In addition to this exhibit, we invite you to share your LRV stories. From the good times to the bad, what you liked or didn't like, or even your photos -- click on over to the BTeM LRV thread at The MBTA Forum at TransitHistory and share your LRV experiences!

For a more detailed history of the LRV, and related controversies, be sure to read Scott Moore's article at NETransit. Keep in mind, it was written in the mid-1990s, and the end of it offers a hopeful view that would later be dashed to pieces!