New Subway Cars Coming to the Big Apple

Straphangers, rejoice. The beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is bringing new subway cars to the big city.

The MTA Board approved the $1.4 billion purchase of 535 state-of-the-art, next-generation R211 subway cars for use on the “B Division,” which are the lettered routes, as well as the Staten Island Railway. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will provide the funding for this project.

The MTA is buying 535 cars from Kawasaki Rail Car. However, the board may buy 1,077 additional cars, bringing the total cost to $3.7 billion.

“It is imperative that we provide a first-in-class subway car that can live up to the rigor and expectations of New Yorkers,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a news release. “As part of our commitment to modernize the subway system, we have expanded and accelerated this contract to provide more reliable, more comfortable train cars that are easier to board and exit and provide more useful real-time information to riders.”

For the initial, base contract, Kawasaki will design and deliver 440 new closed-end cars for the B Division, 75 closed-end cars for Staten Island Railway and 20 innovative open gangway cars as part of a pilot program to MTA New York City Transit.

The R211 cars feature 58-inch wide door openings, which are eight inches wider than standard doors on existing cars. The expanded doors are designed to reduce delays and speed up train movement by speeding boarding and reducing the time trains sit in stations.

Cars delivered to the B Division will be compatible with an advanced signaling system known as Communications-Based Train Control, enabling New York City Transit to provide more frequent and reliable service by operating trains more closely together, officials said.

Some of the R211 cars will feature an “open gangway” pilot program located at the ends of the cars. This open design allows riders to move freely between cars, which should reduce crowding and distribute passenger loads more evenly throughout the train, officials contend.

All cars also include digital displays that will provide real-time, location-specific information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, and brighter lighting, signage and safety graphics.

“The R211s will be a welcome addition to New York City Transit’s next-generation fleet. As both the R160 and R188 subway cars produced by Kawasaki have proven to be some of the most reliable in their class, we look forward to working with Kawasaki on the production of these cars,” MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim said in a news release.