Talk:Trolleybuses in Greater Boston

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This article should have maps showing historical and current extents of the system. Magic♪piano 14:26, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

I'm currently updating the KML for List of key MBTA bus routes, which includes most of these, so I can copy-paste a lot of code from that once I'm done. I'm also working on a KML-to-SVG conversion algorithm which may allow me to make a high-quality vector map relatively simply. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 18:49, 23 September 2012 (UTC)


First renaming: need to fix re-directs[edit]

@Pi.1415926535: Your renaming from Boston-area_trackless_trolleys to Trolleybuses of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority left re-directs, that expose the old name, e.g. in uses of {{Main}} and {{See also}}. Can you work through [1] and fix them? Thanx — Lentower (talk) 22:39, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

 Done I killed the double redirects when I moved it but didn't think about these. All the bare links and some indirect links have been redirected. Cheers, Pi.1415926535 (talk) 23:40, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanx! I fixed the second visible one of these redirects in List of trolleybus systems in the United States, and cleaned up the rest in the article namespace. — Lentower (talk) 01:56, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Second Renaming[edit]

I have renamed the article to Trolleybuses in Greater Boston, something I had been planning to do for a long time, because (except for the "Greater" part) that is the standard title format for all articles in this subject area, already in use (for years) for the articles on all seven other existing North American trolleybus systems, plus some closed North American systems (such as Edmonton and Atlanta), and for articles on well over 100 current and former trolleybus systems outside North America. To see for yourself, take a look at this page (or go to Special:PrefixIndex and input search terms for yourself). No other title format is even close to being standard. This one is almost universal for this subject area on Wikipedia. Personally, I believe the article should be located at "Trolleybuses in Boston" (not Greater), because Cambridge is part of the metropolitan area commonly known simply as Boston, all served by MBTA, and 99% of Wikipedia readers would understand that "Boston" in that title is short for "the Boston area" – and the text of the article can make it clear that the article is not limited to the city of Boston proper. Also, this article is not just about the current system and the current operator (MBTA), but about the entire history of this system back to 1936. One reason I hadn't gotten around to moving the article previously is that I wanted to do it when I had time to add some history to this article, which is very short on history. Compare to Trolleybuses in Dayton and Trolleybuses in Philadelphia. I'll try to add some history now. The old title (used until just 2 days ago), Boston-area trackless trolleys, at least included a [correct] geographic reference, but its format was still very different from the standard title for articles in this subject area, so a renaming to the "Trolleybuses in [city]" format was long overdue. SJ Morg (talk) 08:21, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree with the move (my apologies for the poor title on my previous move) but it should definitely stay as Greater Boston. The vast majority of the current mileage is outside the city of Boston (and in fact does not even enter the city); that is not the case for most of these other systems which are generally based out of the city center. Historically this was also the case - Boston (south of the Charles) had more rapid transit and Tremont Street Subway-connected streetcar service, so the northside municipalities had much larger trackless systems. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 12:15, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
History The recent renamings were:
Lentower (talk) 17:37, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Pi.1415926535, for your comments. No apologies necessary. I'm comfortable leaving it as "... Greater Boston". SJ Morg (talk) 09:35, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I went through [2] and updated both the visible and invisible uses of this article's last name in the article namespace. — Lentower (talk) 15:48, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

@SJ Morg: Can you move/rename commons:Category:Trolleybuses of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority? (If not, perhaps @Pi.1415926535: or someone else would.) It's visible at

Lentower (talk) 15:48, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I can do that after lunch. @Lentower: Just a reminder - the {{MBTABus}} template works for all active MBTA routes including the trackless trolleys - see {{MBTABus|71}} (renders as 71). [[71 (MBTA bus)|]] (which the template creates) works if you wish to have other wikitext in the link. There's no need to individually update the links on various pages with the Trolleybuses in Greater Boston link - just use the template or generic link which can be updated in one place. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 15:51, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Pi. I just noticed commons:Category:Trolleybuses_in_Boston. Perhaps these two commons categories should be combined? — Lentower (talk) 16:09, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
 Done on both. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 16:51, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Again, Thanks, Pi. — Lentower (talk) 20:06, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Why this renaming?[edit]

Why? The things aren't called that there, and aren't actually called that anywhere else, either, except in railfan nostalgia. Which English speaking places using these things now call them by your preferred name, and which -if any- used the term when operating them?Anmccaff (talk) 14:53, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

As you've already discovered, "trolleybus" is the name that has been standardized on throughout Wikipedia, and this page uses that convention. If you want to have that argument then keep it central at Talk:Trolleybus, but be warned that the discussion is probably going to go absolutely nowhere; as you were previously informed there, the WP Manual of Style strongly discourages mass renaming of standard titles. And despite your accusations of "railfan nostalgia", "trolleybus" has been pretty standard since the 1940s. Non-hyphenated "trolleybus" derivatives are in modern times universally used across languages (note the Japanese "Tororiibasu" and the French "trolleybus") and those operators (which make up the vast majority of operators, past and present) tend to use "trolleybus" not "trolley bus". So you're just wasting everyone's time; go produce actual content instead.
As a side note: "trackless trolley" (the local term, but uncommon outside of Boston and Philly) is a term used only in American systems; its invention was very likely a euphemism to disguise trolley lines downgraded into trackless lines. (Note that designed all-four systems tended to use "trolleybus" and its variations instead.)
-- Pi.1415926535 (talk) 15:44, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I have reformatted the following response by Anmccaff for clarity PeterEastern (talk) 04:16, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In response to What "mass renaming?" I am referring to Cambridge, and, I suppose, Philadelphia, here. Pittsburgh, I suppose Well, if you add "trolley coach, it's looking a bit like North America, isn't it? Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
And despite your accusations of "railfan nostalgia", "trolleybus" has been pretty standard since the 1940s. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 15:44, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
What do you base that on? Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In response to Non-hyphenated "trolleybus" derivatives are in modern times universally used across languages (note the Japanese "Tororiibasu" Wiki has a very nice long list of gairaigo and wasei-eigo; almost all of them -all but 5 or so- are written and said an a single word. I'd bet half started out as two or more. Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In response to and the French "trolleybus") I believe, although am not sure, that that is partly an outgrowth of GE's "Trollibus." Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In response to and those operators (which make up the vast majority of operators, past and present) tend to use "trolleybus" not "trolley bus". So you're just wasting everyone's time; go produce actual content instead" Those operators? Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In response to As a side note: "trackless trolley" (the local term, but uncommon outside of Boston and Philly) is a term used only in American systems; its invention was very likely a euphemism to disguise trolley lines downgraded into trackless lines. "Utter nonsense. See, for only one readily accessible example, Electric Railway Journal vol 59 (1922)'s index. That's a decade or so before all-four was a gleam in BMT's eye. (BMT preferred "trolley coach, IMS.)" Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
@Anmccaff: phrases like "Utter nonsense" are discouraged here on Wikipedia. They verge on being a personal attack which is not allowed. Please be rational and calm when commenting. — Lentower (talk) 18:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Make it "simply untrue," then.
  • In response to (Note that designed all four systems tended to use "trolleybus" and its variations instead.) e.g.? I'm not sure there ever were any designed all-four systems in the West, although some evolved that way. One good example is SF, where the "trackless trolley" was still a term used into at least the late sixties. Anmccaff (talk) 15:14, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Take it to Talk:Trolleybus; it's beyond irrelevant here. Because "trolleybus" has been standardized on for all articles on the subject, if you want to move one article with the word "trolleybus" in the title you will have to move them all. Any mass renaming of that sort would have to come from consensus there, not here, and I can tell you right now that modern usage trumps historic usage with naming articles. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 15:26, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
See my remark below, at the {{Outdent}}. — Lentower (talk) 18:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Also, do not reply in the middle of others' posts on talk pages; that's a bad habit that BBCode allows but is generally considered extremely rude here. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 15:26, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
  • In general, I have great respect for the editing you do here on Wikipedia.
  • When I see this style of commenting, and the kind of formatting you are unhappy with above, I check the user's history to see if they are an inexperienced user or not. Either way, I try to educate them, with reference to what practice actually is here. Anmccaff (talk · contribs) is inexperienced.
  • This sentence of yours is not in the interest of Wikipedia. Many editors would view your use of boldface, and the tone of this sentence as a personal attack (which I suspect you know is against {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}}). In this case it is worse, as we all should help inexperienced editors come up to speed here, not discourage them (which is also what the {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}} ask).
  • The last time, I looked at the guidelines for Talk Pages, what he did here is allowed as long as who wrote what is clear, by:
    • making sure the indenting is done right (which he did).
    • copying-n-pasting the user signature, to the end of each break created (which I did as a courtesy for him).
  • I prefer what he did here, as it gets all the commenting on a point close together, not spread out over too many scrolled screens. It's what I would have done here.
  • If I had written a sentence like this one of yours, I would apologize to Anmccaff for it's tone and mis-information.
Lentower (talk) 18:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── This is the remark linked to a few paragraphs above.

I like to hear what other editors have to contribute on this Talk page.

@Anmccaff and Pi.1415926535:

  • What I see from both of you above is largely personal opinion, as well as, facts & conjectures from personal knowledge. We are suppose to write this encyclopedia from reliable authoritative sources. Such sources are a much better input to consensus on this talk page and elsewhere on Wikipeida. Another input should be links to the {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}} and Manual of Style, though neither is cast in stone, as it's said several places in the {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}} -- if you disagree with them, you should make a clear argument why, linking to sources on and off or Wikipedia where possible. (There are conflicts in the {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}} and Manual of Style, which when useful should be noted.)
  • Standardization of this kind is not in the interest of our readers. One of the side effects of the Internet in particular, and globalization in general, is slowing eliminating much of the diversity in human knowledge & culture. Wikipedia should be preserving and emphasizing that diversity, when sources are available. At best, a tyranny of the majority against the rights of the minority. (I haven't looked to see if there are essays, or guidelines about this.) This is similar to the effort to remove national bias from the English Wikipedia (and I suspect all of Wikipedia) asked for in the {{Wikipedia_policies_and_guidelines}}.
  • This article is most likely to be read by people who live and are interested in Boston. Another reason to use the local usage.
  • "Standards" on Wikipedia, particularly ones like Pi is referring to, are often established by a very small number of editors, who often have biases. The "standards" are often not in the interest of our readers.
  • So my preference is titling articles based on local usage established by sources, with any other usages being redirects, and mentioned in the article's lead, and perhaps elsewhere in the article.
  • Yes, I'm not going to spend time finding exact sources about any of this.

Lentower (talk) 18:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Lentower, I disagree with several of your points. Threaded discussions are the rule on Wikipedia specifically to prevent single signed comments from being broken up - see WP:THREAD. Several of my comments are now completely out of context due to my paragraphs being broken up. While Flow may allow point-by-point replies similar to forum software, it is in very limited deployment.
Anmccaff has been warned on multiple occasions about their disruptive talk page behavior, with specific emphasis on proper threading. They have been told how to use talk pages properly and have refused to; warning them is neither out of the norm nor unreasonable at this point. Hostility breeds hostility; I apologize for my tone if it was inappropriate, but I also strongly object to the manner in which Anmccaff challenged a move that was well thought out and based on best practices from elsewhere on Wikipedia.
WP:COMMONALITY states that "Universally used terms are often preferable to less widely distributed terms, especially in article titles." Those from outside the US don't use "trackless trolley"; those in the US don't use "trolley coach" and the like. Wikipedia's highest goal is to create a universal encyclopedia, not to encourage infighting as to which locally used term is correct. Cultural identity is not being compromised by using a word that everyone understands, but a great deal is gained from all readers being able to understand the subject of the article. If an article title makes less sense because of which term is used (as would be the case with "trackless trolley" as a regionalism) then that is severely detrimental. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 19:01, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
I did a few quick searches on "trolleybus" vs. "trackless trolley", and the former term seems to be much more widespread. The latter term seems to be used mostly in a few cities in the US. I support the position of Pi.1415926535 stated immediately above, for the policy reasons given. We can accommodate the regionalism "trackless trolley" with redirects, and this has already been done. If the apparent Wikipedia consensus on the terminology is to be changed, it should be argued openly in the wider forum Talk:Trolleybus.
Also, I think that chopping up another editor's posting, even in good faith, does a disservice to everybody by breaking up the logical flow and coherence (or lack thereof) of the points made by the original editor. If a later editor wishes to discuss an earlier posting point-by-point (a very reasonable thing to do), the better way is to use Template:Tq, which was specifically intended for this purpose. A Talk page is an open forum on editing an article, and should be readable as a chronological transcript; it is very different from a series of emails where all recipients are presumed to be following the discussion in detail from the beginning. Other editors arriving later (sometimes much later) will have great difficulty following earlier editor postings if they are broken up and desynchronized by later editors' modification of the original texts. Telling later editors to use the editing history to decode what was originally said and in what order, is expecting heroic reconstruction efforts on the part of anybody not present from the beginning; this will artificially narrow the number of discussants, to Wikipedia's detriment. Reify-tech (talk) 04:10, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
As the person who carried out the renaming to "Trolleybuses in ....", it goes without saying that I support it. Common local terminology, in this case "trackless trolley", can and should be noted prominently in articles such as this one (although how much they should be used in the text is a debate for another time), but I believe there's great value in standardizing the titles of articles on this topic, trolleybus/trackless trolley systems by city, on which there are already more than 100 articles in English Wikipedia (as I mentioned above, on July 25). There have always been different terms for this mode, both by geography (within the U.S. and among different English-speaking countries) and over time, considering that this mode has been around for more than 100 years, but "trolleybus" and "trolley bus" are by far the most common terms nowadays (a statement I make based on reliable sources such as magazines and books, not just personal experience), and "trackless trolley" has almost always been used only in the northeastern U.S.
I disagree with Lentower's assertion that this article "is most likely to be read by people who live and are interested in Boston." I believe a much higher proportion of the readers of this article are people interested in mass transit, and those readers come from all over the country, plus other countries. (This is English Wikipedia, not American Wikipedia, and it is also the version of Wikipedia most widely read by people in other countries whose primary language is not English, when there is no article on a given topic in their language.) And please note that Boston-focussed navboxes such as this one can pipe the link to this article as "Trackless trolleys", because navboxes like that one presumably do have a higher proportion of Boston-area residents among their readers (although still very far from a majority) and it makes some sense to use common local terminology in a navbox that is exclusively listing articles about that local area. I could have changed the link in that navbox when I renamed the article, but I chose not to. I also created additional redirects using the local usage, so no one will have any trouble locating this article. SJ Morg (talk) 17:23, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
"Trolleybus" and "trolley bus" are by far the most common terms nowadays, perhaps, but not when the things were actually running a good deal more. Note that even London only began generally combining the words in the late '50s, i.e., when they were about to scrap the system. Wikipedia uses a name for something that wasn't used by -any- North American anglophone systems in its heyday, and that only gained its popularity from juicer nostalgia, the death of "Trackless Trolley (magazine)" coupled with the survival of "Trolleybus" and the re-entering of loan-words from the continent....oh, and, of course, Wiki itself*. Almost every operator called them some clipping of "trackless trolley Bus" or "trackless trolley coach," with as many words left out as local circs allowed. BTW, far from being restricted to the Northeast, "trackless trolley" was used in Milwaukee, San Francisco (although more for the system than the vehicles, generally), Los Angeles, Atlanta, New Orleans... ...hardly a Greater NewEnglandism, except among the survivors. "Trolleybus," one word? It's anachronistic. How far should that be taken?Anmccaff (talk) 18:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
(*I just saw an example of a Wikified OCR typo that had spawned about 300 imitators.)Anmccaff (talk) 18:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Sounds interesting, can you furnish a ref or a pointer to the OCR typo? Reify-tech (talk) 18:29, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
(["Charles Graves"]) The typo'd (Typoed? Typo-ed?) version used to have about 280 clones; it seems to be down to 221 on Google-of-the-moment.Anmccaff (talk) 18:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Clicking the link gets a "Bad Title" page, and when I went to Charles Patrick Graves, I read the entire article but failed to see any OCR typo. I don't get the point you are trying to illustrate. Reify-tech (talk) 19:18, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, I am obviously illustrating that I haven't got the hang of processing words in a Wiki-cal way, although I am trying for the opposite. The previous version of the CPG article had "lid" instead of "11d" - "cigarettes were lid for 20" - and a good many people copied it. It in turn seems to have originated with Google book search, which isn't up on pre-decimal pounds, apparently.Anmccaff (talk) 19:35, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @anmccaff: Encyclopedias are written in present-day English, not some earlier version from 60 or 70 years ago. Common terminology in use during the heydey of the trolleybus (1940s-1950s) definitely should be prominently mentioned in articles about surviving systems, as I and others wrote above, but the titles and the text should use present-day terminology. I've been interested in trolleybuses for 40 years, and I have never heard anyone claim that "trackless" was part of the common term for this mode in "almost every" system, as you do above. I have only heard of this being common in the northeastern U.S. and Milwaukee, and probably a handful of other places. From what I've seen and read, "trolley coach" was by far the most common term used in the U.S. from the 1920s through the 1970s, but is rarely used now. I have several books, magazines and newspaper articles supporting these statements. On what are you basing your claims?

You use phrasing that implies you were around during the time when many cities were using trolleybuses, and yet your statements suggest otherwise. Most of the info. from that era is not online, but anyone can go to the website and look up the section on "Miscellaneous Odds and Ends and Ads", or the individual city sub-pages, and you can find several ads and articles actually published in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, almost all of which use either "trolley coach" (by far the most common term) or "trolley bus", for example this one (referencing the ATA, now APTA), or this (Chicago, 1945), or this (Kansas City 1955) or this ad from Pullman-Standard (which built all of its trolley coaches in Massachusetts, a place where the mode was referred to as the trackless trolley, and yet still used only the term trolley coach in all of its advertising, because that was the common term nationally). But you don't have to take my word; peruse the site for yourself. (I am not promoting this site, but just mentioning it as one of the few websites where one can find multiple examples of literature actually published during the period when trolleybuses were in more widespread use, most of which is not online.) I have never heard of a "Trackless Trolley [magazine]". Maybe you are thinking of Trolley Coach News (1960s to 1986), which was published by the North American Trackless Trolley Association; in that magazine, the term "trackless trolley" rarely appeared, because very few systems were using it.

I have also never heard anyone claim, as you do, that this mode used to be called a "trolley bus" (two words) in London. I have books that include photos and literature from the early decades of the trolleybus in London, and every bit of evidence suggests it was written as one word from the very start. Some very early (1910s) British systems were referred to as "trackless tram" systems, but my British friends say that's a very antiquated term nowadays (to speakers of British English), which no one would use in modern writing (except in reference to the old term, used only for the pre-1920 systems), and as far as I've seen, "trolleybus" (one word) is the universal term used throughout Britain for the past several decades.

Nowadays, the single-word spelling (trolleybus) is even preferred by the U.S. Transportation Research Board (see the Glossary section of this publication, for example) and APTA (see the Glossary in the 2014 APTA Fact Book – and look at the 2009 edition to see that this was already the case several years ago). And, as I said at the beginning, encyclopedias are written in present-day English. It's appropriate to make reference to old terminology in articles on historical subjects, but it's not appropriate to use old terminology throughout such articles. SJ Morg (talk) 05:43, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

First, my up-front apologies for what may be some atrocious editing. To take the points raised above, in turn: how can local or historic terminology be "prominently mentioned" if both "titles and the text should use present-day terminology?" That doesn't leave a good deal of options, doees it, since all of the illustrations in this article are labeled as "trolleybus," even when, as you say elsewhere, the manufacturer and users might have differed.
Next, where did I say that common names included every possible word? "Clippings" implies exactly the opposite, that, so to speak, one man's "tarp" is another man's "paulin." Local names generally keep as little as is needed to distinguish one mode from another; for example, places without streetcars often simply call the rubber-tired creatures "trolleys." But, and these are just examples, you can readily see that Los Angeles used "trackless trolley coach" to introduce the new equipment in the 40's, and that the phrase, or variants, are in the legal codes of a good many states. Perhaps you "only heard of [trackless in system names] being common in the northeastern U.S. and Milwaukee, and probably a handful of other places," but that handful includes New Orleans, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Wilmington, Atlanta, Detroit, Flint... Of course, in some cases, different names were shiboleths, and different trades and professions used terminology that might be obsolete in another. Looking through Google books at "trolley bus," two words or hyphenated, you'll see that governments and electrical contracting companies kept the usage later. You "have also never heard anyone claim, as you do, that this mode used to be called a "trolley bus" (two words) in London?" Two minutes on Google books, set for the trolley( ,-,')bus era, will disabuse you of this. You will see contemporary references to "trolly bus," "trolly-bus, "trolly 'bus" and trolly-'bus" galore. (Of course, most of them will not be written by railfans, and these other usages decline over time.) Finally, for this go, "trolleybus" in USAnian popular usage; is coming to refer to cutesy Tootle-ized tourist-haulers to a depressing degree. Someones gonna have to think of a new name; how 'bout...nahh, wouldn't be prudent.Anmccaff (talk) 05:57, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
By "prominent reference", I meant mention in the lead section, usually in the very first sentence of the article. Beyond that, this lengthy discussion over differences between current terminology and usage-contemporary terminology among different cities and countries is a waste of time, in my opinion, for the reason I've already stated: Professional encyclopedia articles are written in present-day English, and Wikipedia aspires to be as close to a professional encyclopedia as possible. SJ Morg (talk) 19:43, 14 August 2014 (UTC)