8. Futuristic Cars

Futuristic subway Cars
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Nells Wiki.

Riders on the A, D, E, and N lines may have been confused by a certain subway train that pulled into the platform in 1974. The SOAC or “State-of-the-Art Car” was a futuristic-looking vehicle with a large front windshield and sleek stainless steel body with comfortably cushioned seats and some tables inside, a stark contrast to the graffiti-covered cars commuters were used to riding. In a brochure from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, the car was advertised as a “people-car” offering the most advanced “creature comforts” such as climate control, noise reduction, and a faster safer ride. The SOAC, which was designed and built by the St. Louis Car Company, was evaluated through public use in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Although the cars were well received, the Transportation Administration’s goal of implementing a universal transit car design failed and the St. Louis Car Company closed in 1974. The SOAC now sits on display at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Since the introduction of the SOAC, transit authorities still take into account feedback from commuters. Over the years, there have been many technological improvements made to New York City subway cars, and more is to come soon. This includes open gangways, wider doors, more real-time digital displays, and an overall, modern design, though we wouldn’t mind the return of old-fashioned cushioned seats and tables.