The El

The "El"

During the next four decades the mass transportation system in Boston experienced tremendous physical expansion. New rapid transit tunnels were constructed, elevated railway lines were thrust out into outlying communities, new surface routes were established, and new carhouses and terminals were built.

The Boston Elevated Railway was always one to be innovative in the area of equipment. Today, when there is so much emphasis being placed on light rail vehicle design, it is interesting to note that the principle of the articulated or bending (in the middle) streetcar originated right here in Boston during the 1912-1913 era. Searching for a way to provide service on the narrow twisting streets of the Hub, the Boston "El" took two early 20 foot boxlike streetcars and joined them together to articulate or bend. Bostonians of the day dubbed this new type of equipment "two rooms and a bath". During the BERY era, Boston also built the nation's first sub-aqueous or underwater mass transit tunnel (East Boston Tunnel).

In 1922, Boston's first motor bus route was established. In 1936, Boston opened its first trackless line. For a brief time, Boston was the third largest operator of trackless trolley in the country.

The BERY's ambitious expansion did not save it from serious financial problems, however. The development of the automobile and the building of better roads combined to rob the BERY of ridership. Inflated labor and material costs increased its overhead, while its legislatively mandated five cent fare with free transfers held.

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