The MTA’s latest subway cars roll from Manhattan to Queens on the A line
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out its first brand-new subway cars in five years on Friday, giving riders accustomed to the old yellow-and-orange seats the first glimpse of the agency’s future.
The shiny new cars – pressed into service on the city’s longest metro line, the A train – have wider doors for faster boarding, flip-up seats to provide extra space for disabled people, new security cameras to boost safety and digital information signs offering information about transfers.
“It’s just so exciting just to watch,” said Candace Chen, 37, who happened to come across the train’s maiden voyage during her afternoon commute.
“I think that’s what really captures everyone and gets everyone in such a good mood,” she added. “You don’t expect on your daily commute to go over like, ‘oh, wow, that’s the first trip.'”
The 10-car train — which ran from 207th Street in Inwood to the Far Rockaway Terminal in Queens — is part of the MTA’s next-generation subway fleet, known as the R211.
The agency has ordered nearly 1,200 of the new cars, enough for about 120 new trains, worth an estimated $3.2 billion.
“The new cars will provide our riders with a more modern passenger experience,” MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said during a press conference at the Inwood A train subway station. “Riding the subway no longer feels like a step into the past.”
These new trains will first replace the R46s from the 1970s that currently provide much of the service on the A and C.
The new train cars are needed to take full advantage of the MTA’s new computerized signaling system, which the agency is spending billions on to replace the decades-old and dysfunctional stop light system it currently relies on.
Officials recently reorganized their signal replacement schedule to prioritize the A/C/E and B/D/F/M trains, which are some of the least reliable and most delay-prone in the entire system.
Installation of the new system, known as Computer Based Train Control, is currently underway on the 8th Avenue trunk line.
MTA officials also recently moved up the schedule to overhaul the signals on the Fulton subway, which also serves the A and C through Brooklyn.
As part of the program, the MTA has purchased two trains with the subway cars connected by an open passage so riders can easily move around and find seats during rush hours.
It is the agency’s first test of the ‘open landing trains’ that have become a staple of the subway systems in London, Paris and Toronto because they offer 10 percent more space for passengers compared to their closed doors.
However, officials have said they are optimistic about the idea and have made ‘open gangways’ a likely design component of the MTA’s next generation of subway cars for the numbered lines, called R262.