The convoluted utility ownership played a role. Standard arrangement for longest time in most New England municipalities was that the utility owned the street lights and charged the towns flat rate per head...but that jurisdictionally made the poles a kind of battleground and for the T's separate 600V DC infrastructure sharing across paper barriers was simply too hard to bother with. This is markedly different, from, say...San Francisco...where it was never a big deal to lump infrastructure on combo poles in LRT/TT territory. Other than a couple squares in Belmont along the 73 where regular pole-strung utilities are buried and they indeed do hang streetlights on the TT poles for short stretches (or Aberdeen St., Cambridge on the 72) it's pretty much a separate-but-equal universe. Makes a real mess on Mt. Auburn in Watertown, for instance, where you've got triple the duplication: telephone pole utilities, separate 1980's-install metal-pole/underground-feed streetlights, AND the TT poles.I REALLY want them to consider that for the Belmont St project in Cambridge: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departm...jects/2019/belmontstreetreconstructionproject
If anyone with some knowledge in that arena wants to send them some feedback...
Other than "gee, but who will replace a knockdown", I have no idea why it's not something they are willing to consider. No problem putting city-owned light fixtures on Verizon-owned utility poles, but apparently doing the same on MBTA-owned poles is off the table. There was talk about the wires eventually going away, and this would make that so much easier: no poles to remove!
It's changing now. Tons of towns spent the last 15 years buying back their streetlights from Eversource after realizing the per-head fees were a giant ripoff. When the towns went from less-efficient mercury vapor lights to high pressure sodium that's 2x the light for the same wattage, the utilities never adjusted their per-head rates. They either installed way-overpowered bulbs at same wattage as their dimmer predecessors and created giant glarebombs every 50 feet, of simply pocketed the savings. Once LED's came under evaluation and they refused again to adjust per-head rates--this time at pants-on-fire 1/10th the electricity usage--the towns finally had enough and started the buybacks so they could actually pay the going rate for actual energy usage.
That'll make it much easier to consolidate infrastructure. Plus fact that LED's are so much longer lasting means you can have them hung over the TT wires without need for the muni bulb-change crew to have special training for working around the live traction power wire.
Golden opportunity for the interminably vaporware North Cambridge Mass Ave. reconstruction to do combo streetlight/TT poles, since reducing the number of sidewalk pole obstructions is going to be crucial for the enhanced ped/bike accommodations envisioned for the rebuild. Cambridge was one of the cities that did a streetlight buyback from NStar in the last 20 years. The spaghetti mess on the 71 also screams for it...at least getting rid of the streetlight poles that are wholly extra modern-install sidewalk clutter.