Seatless train experiment stalling out

By · Published in 2009

To combat overcrowding during peak travel times, the MTA proposed last August to remove seats from some trains during rush hour. At the time, it appeared as though the MTA would unveil a trial train car by early 2009. As with all good MTA projects though, this one has hit a speed bump, and now the agency is targeting the end of the year for its test run.

According to Tom Namako, the MTA ran into some troubles with Kawasaki, the train car maker. The agency first hoped to install flip-bench capabilities to existing train cars in-house but ran into some troubles. When Transit asked Kawaski for foldable benches, the manufacturer refused, noting that the sample order — just four cars — was too small for them to spend time engineering this change. And so the MTA is now returning to an in-house solution that will be implemented when new train cars arrive.

Unfortunately, since Kawaski would not adjust old cars, the line that most need this innovation — the East Side IRT — will miss out. Instead, according to Namako, the new R160s will serve as the trial subways. These cars are currently in place along the E, F, J, L, M, N, Q, W and Z lines. The F and Q suffer from overcrowding the most and could serve as decent test lines for an innovative project a few months too late.

13 Responses to “Seatless train experiment stalling out”

  1. Christopher says:

    On Kawasaki’s part that seems really stupid, stupid from an innovation standpoint, and stupid from a customer service standpoint.

    Someone wasn’t negotiating on this correctly. It’s hard to tell who.

    Perhaps a program that allowed Kawasaki to retain the IP rights (outside of NYC of course) for whatever they created would have pushed this through? At the very least, I would hope this gives NYC pause for ever doing business with them again. And of course, you’d think this would have been a negotiating tactic (or at least at the back of Kawasaki’s minds when they were deciding wether to create a solution and provide customer support for the countries largest transit system or not).

    • Marc Ebuna says:

      I agree with your sentiment about Kawaski, considering they already make trains with seats that fold up and lock.

      I’m pretty sure Kawasaki Heavy Industries makes all the EMUs for JR. With the possibility of a larger order, it can’t possibly reasonable to say that asking for a small sample like that is ‘too small for them to spend time engineering’ such a change. Granted, an in-house solution might work just as well as it did for the MBTA who started running the Big Red cars last December.

      Though, it’d be nice to be able to retain the benches and just have them fold down for off peak use.

  2. Nowooski says:

    Lets not trash talk the Lexington Ave. line, it is my favorite. Granted, it is horrible north of Grand Central, where the express trains run below the local but the small, overcrowded cars and hazardous platform gaps at places like Union Square just have so much character.

  3. SEAN says:

    R-160’s bearly run on the F as it is, the A, G & the R mostly run R32’s, 38’s & 44’s.

    • Kevin says:

      Last I heard, about a third of the F is now R160. I think they should be majority R160 by the end of the year.

    • Andrew says:

      The R38’s have been all gone for months. (Since March, I think?)

      The A runs mostly R44’s with some R46’s and a few R32’s. The G runs all R46’s. The R runs mostly R46’s with some R32’s and R42’s thrown in for good measure. The V runs the lion’s share of the remaining R42’s, along with some R32’s and R46’s.

      The F will be getting more R160’s. When all is said and done, most if not all of the R46’s will be off the F, running on the C, R, and V instead.

  4. Kevin says:

    The E is also fairly overcrowded as well. That would make a good test line.

  5. Andrew says:

    East Side IRT? The plan was always to do this with R160’s, not R142’s.

    The E is the most overcrowded of the B Division lines. My guess is that this train will end up on the E.

  6. Ed says:

    When I’m standing in the subway (my usual line is the Lexington Avenue line), I’ve noticed that I tend to get jostled or pushed aside by people wearing big backpacks, swaying to their IPODs, people who bring strollers or big suitcases into the car, or people who just seem to decide that they really, really want to stand where I’m standing. I tend to grab a seat at the first opportunity, even if I’m not tired, just to get out of the way.

    I wonder how the seatless subway cars will work with the MTA’s current campaign against groping?

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