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New MTA subway cars to come into service this year

The new R179 car, shown in a rendering,

The new R179 car, shown in a rendering, will hit MTA tracks in 2017. Photo Credit: Bombardier Transportation

New subway cars, long delayed in their delivery, will start rolling through MTA stations before the end of the year, the agency announced Monday.

A batch of about 70 new cars will go into service this year to replace the oldest subway cars in the agency’s fleet on the J, Z and C lines, which have now become prone to breaking down. Another 230 or so will be put into service as they’re delivered over the course of 2018, according to Steve Plochochi, the MTA’s vice president of procurement and material.

“This is long-awaited good news,” said Plochochi at a committee meeting Monday where he also outlined MTA plans for a “major design change” in subway cars for future orders.

Originally expected to be delivered in 2014, the first car from manufacturers Bombardier Transportation didn’t arrive in New York until September of last year. The MTA will be able to double the speed of testing these cars thanks to a second, 1.7-mile test track being built in Brighton Beach. There’s currently only one test track in the Rockaways.

For now, the 300 subway cars, models known as the R179, won’t look much different than the newer cars riders currently see on lines like the L. But they are expected to help the MTA save money it currently spends on the upkeep of the old cars, frequently spotted with broken doors or faulty air conditioning units.

The cars will also add to the MTA’s rolling stock ahead of the 2019 L train shutdown, when it plans to boost service along nearby lines to absorb L train commuters.

Plochochi then outlined details for the following order of 1,025 subway cars — due to all be in service by 2023 — which will be drastically different from what riders see today. To start, the cars will have “updated” interior and exterior color schemes and new digital display screens. Each car will have wider, 58-inch doors; the MTA’s current door width standard is 50 inches.

Most of that order, or 640 cars, will be open-ended, open-gangway cars. This means that each subway car will be connected with “soft, accordion-like walls … enabling passengers to move easily between the cars” to less crowded areas of the train, according to Plochochi.

The accordion-style cars hold more passengers and the MTA hopes the new design will reduce delays related to overcrowding.

“This is a big change,” Plochochi added, “and we are excited about this future for New York subway riders.”

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