R211-MTA-Open Gangway-Subway Car-Rendering-NYC-4Via MTA Capital Program Oversight Committee Meeting, January 2016. Renderings are from 2013.

There’s been a lot of excitement in the transit world about New York City’s open gangway subway cars, though the MTA is only purchasing 10 prototypes, at a cost of $52 million, according to its Capital Plan. The aim, as can be expected, is to increase capacity of the entire subway train allowing passengers to ride in the gangway between cars, like the articulated buses already on the road. As international travelers and transit buffs know, open gangway cars are already in active use in many transit systems around the world like certain lines in Paris, Toronto and London. And as Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas reports, not only does it increase capacity by 8-10% per car, its also a safer design. How many times have you seen people open the doors between cars? It would also limit isolation of cars.

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Kabak reports that these 10 prototypes won’t arrive until the “early 2020s” and a full order of open gangway cars, if the prototypes are successful, would not arrive until the “late 2020s.” Even more depressingly, he doesn’t predict that a full system wide change could be in effect until the mid-2070s which would put us 70+ years behind other global cities. Plans for an open gangway have been in the works since at least 2013, and the cautious approach was affirmed by New York City Transit’s acting subways chief Wynton Habersham at an MTA board meeting: “We’re using this project as an opportunity to just test that technology and see if it works for New York,” he said.

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It’s important to note that articulated trains are not foreign to New York City at all, and the New York Transit Museum ran the BMT D-Type Triplex just recently in December as part of its annual nostalgia train runs. The connector of the Triplex, launched in 1924, was albeit much less modern and spacious than the new proposal:

Nostalgia Train Transit Museum Untapped Cities AFineLyneStepping on the connector between two of the subway cars

The new R211 trains would have WiFi, charging stations and digital video screens, regardless of the open gangway or non-open gangway model.

Next, discover the Top 12 Secrets of the NYC Subway.