Catching the Type 9

Back in March of 2019, I took a trip on the Green Line to see if I could catch a ride on their then-new Type 9 trolley. The T needed a couple of dozen extra cars to fill out the fleet once the Green Line Extension opened. (It’s been delayed, but the first branch opened last spring, and main branch will open next month. Finally.)

At that point, there were only a few of the trolleys in service, and one Saturday I saw one was out and about, so I decided to see if I could see it. I still remember excitedly watching its progress towards Kenmore on the B line, while I approached Kenmore on the D. I finally managed to position myself so that I was just ahead of it as it came back outbound, only to have it run right past me; it was not carrying passengers.

The COVID happened, and Mum’s stroke happened, and I’ve been busy, and I haven’t had a chance to try again. In the meantime, the rest of the order has arrived and been accepted. This past Saturday, I finally had a free afternoon, and decided to try to catch it again. I succeeded, and was able to ride #3904 from Riverside to Union Square.

Like the Type 8, the Type 9 is a “low floor” car, meaning that the center of the trolley is low, and you can board without climbing steps. The T has been obliged to buy low floor cars to accommodate wheel chair users. The Type 9 is laid out mostly like the Type 8 — bench seating along the sides of the car. I’m not a fan. You end up looking out the window behind the person across from you and can’t really see much. Along much of the car, the seats are on a raised platform that you have to step up onto from the low floor, while there are a few foldout seats available in the low-floor section.

I do like the interior of the Type 9 better than the Type 8. The Type 8 has a kind of light mint green interior that always reminds me of a bathroom. The Type 9 has warm light grey walls — almost a beige — green seat pads and enameled yellow stanchions for standees. It’s quite attractive. All of the signage aboard has been updated for the new extension. (The same cannot be said for many of the stations). The seat pads have a flat green textured surface that looks like they might be soft vinyl, but they are unfortunately hard plastic.

The train looks nice, and the on-board displays are nice, but still, I think I prefer the Type 7s with their transverse seating and beige and faux-wood interior. The entire Type 7 fleet was recently overhauled too, and they’re still the workhorses of the line. The Type 8s have never been particularly reliable; hopefully these new cars will be more so.