MTA rolls out subway cars with fewer seats on E line

The remodeled subway cars also feature new LCD display screens and art.

Remodeled E trains with more elbow room but fewer seats have begun arriving at platforms.

The MTA on Tuesday rolled out renovated trains for the line that feature a new blue and yellow paint job and no seating at each end of the cars. Removing the seating will allow the MTA to pack 10 more riders in each E train car, running along one of the system’s busiest corridors. In addition, each of the cars is receiving mechanical work to cut down on the number of breakdowns.

Two refurbished 10-car trains have already hit the line, and a total of 100 remodeled cars will be running on the line by the end of October, according to the agency. The project is part of MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s $836 million Subway Action Plan, for which he’s still seeking full funding.

“This pilot goes directly to the heart of that goal by attacking a significant cause of failures on these cars and making a fast, targeted improvement,” said Lhota in a statement. “We also know that getting more passengers onto trains, in a more efficient manner, is absolutely essential — which is why we’re piloting the removal of [a] select number of seats.”

The trains, known as the R160 model, also feature floor mats at each door with arrows pointing outward, an attempt to guide riders away from standing directly in front of the doors, which slows service by hampering the entrance and exit of passengers. There are new LCD display screens in each car to provide rider information, LED lighting and artwork at each end of the car as well as on the ceiling.

Each of the remodeled cars has a new “master controller,” which is responsible for the braking and acceleration of trains. The devices were identified as one of the leading causes for failure with the R160, the MTA said.

In July, the model broke down an average of once every 232,102 miles. The model’s performance has dipped over the past year, but it’s still above the fleetwide average of one breakdown every 115,843 miles.

Lhota in July unveiled his Subway Action Plan, which relies heavily on hiring 2,700 new workers to better address issues that cause train delays. He said the agency would also be removing seats along the L line and the 42nd Street shuttle, which frustrated some transit advocates who felt riders facing declining service should at least have a chance to sit down.

It was not immediately clear how much the R160 refurbishments cost, though Lhota plans to detail action plan spending at November’s MTA board meeting.

In terms of overall funding, the state has agreed to foot the bill for half of Lhota’s plan, though the chairman has threatened to cut it down unless the city agrees to the other half.

“Providing a safe and reliable ride is what our customers demand and what the MTA is determined to deliver through our Subway Action Plan,” Lhota said. “We do not have time to waste when it comes to improving the customer experience and service for our riders.”

Vincent Barone