Reefing program cut as R32s and R42s stick around


As first reported by Heather Haddon, the MTA will not be scrapping the R32s and R42s that currently run along the A/C and J/Z lines. To save approximately $1.6 million in 2010 and and around $2.4 million overall, Transit will retrofit these cars and keep this batch of 46-year-old rolling stock in use for a few more trips before replacing them later on in the five-year capital plan. The MTA still plans to spend $748 million in capital funds to buy 340 new B division cars before 2015.

As Haddon reports, “[These] trains have the worst record for breakdowns in the system, and are about seven times more likely to fall apart than the new cars on the letter lines, NYC Transit records show.” By keeping them in service and ending the reefing program, the authority can save money on transportation, hazardous material abatement and barging costs. I do wonder how much of those savings is offset by higher maintenance costs. Either way, the fish in the mid-Atlantic will be so disappointed, and we won’t be seeing anymore of those nifty photos of scrapped subway trains on barges.

Categories : Asides, Rolling Stock

17 Responses to “Reefing program cut as R32s and R42s stick around”

  1. Bill Reese says:

    Little known fact, New York State wouldn’t allow these cars to be dropped off its coast because of the asbestos used in older trains. The state is also unaware that asbestos is only toxic when inhaled.

    Naturally, under water, only fish can breathe. Asbestos poses no threat to humans under water. NY scuba divers (like my mom, who told me about this) were quite upset. After all, we paid for them, we pay for them to be dropped into the ocean, the least they could do would be to put them off the coast of Long/Staten Islands (where there are many famous shipwrecks).

    • John Paul N. says:

      Doesn’t asbestos affect other animals, including the fish we may be eating from the reefed cars? And what happens when the cars disintegrate?

  2. SEAN says:

    I have an interesting question. I wondered why some routes got particular fleet types over others. I don’t mean the A vs B devision, rather why does the C line run R-32’s while the E line runs R-160’s & the A/ F/ G/ R lines opperate R-42’s through 46’s. I know there is a logical answer.


    • Matthew says:

      Each service is assigned to a particular train yard for service and storage. Each yard has a certain set of cars assigned to it to simplify maintenance and parts supply. Thus 207th Street Yard and Pitkin Yard supply the A, C and Rockaway Park Shuttle trains with R32s, R44s and R46s. Jamaica Yard supplies the E, F, G and R trains with R46s, R160As and R160Bs.

    • Alon Levy says:

      While lines get cars based on yard assignments, the choice of which yards get which car revolves around certain line requirements. For example, the E has the biggest capacity problems, so it only gets 60-footers, which have more doors.

  3. Kid Twist says:

    The way I understand it, the 32s (from around 1963-64 and rebuilt in the ’90s) and the 42s (ca. 1969, also rebuilt) are being kept around because a lot of the R-44s (1972-73) have developed structural problems and have been pulled from service.

    The R-32s have generally been reliable until recently. I think Transit skimped on maintaining them lately because they were destined for reefing.

    • Andrew says:

      That’s right – the old cars are being kept in service because the slightly newer cars are being retired instead, not to save money on reefing. If it were just a matter of saving money on reefing, then replacement cars would have already been in place, and the old cars could have been mothballed.

      Come to think of it, it looks like the R-44’s are being mothballed rather than reefed. Maybe that’s what Haddon was trying to report, only she managed to confuse herself and everybody else in the process.

      • Brian says:

        According to a TA source, the 44’s will be gone by the end of next month.

        The original goal with the 160 order was to get rid of all of the 32’s to 42’s. After they discovered massive issues with the 44’s, the decision was made to keep the remaining 32’s and 42’s in service for a couple of year longer than expected. The 44’s will NOT reefed.

  4. Bill Reese says:

    Nope. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s fiberous, so when the finy fibers lodge themselves in our lungs, it causes problems. Asbestos is even present (as a mineral) in some drinking water. It’s only a problem if you breathe it in, it is absolutely harmless in water, it’s just another mineral.

    The cars will eventually disintegrate, but not before an ecosystem develops on the cars themselves. Coral will grow on the cars and attract small fish, small fish attract big fish, etc.

  5. Scott E says:

    It’s hard to know what to say to this. On one hand, they’re saving capital costs (new cars) while increasing operational costs (maintenance) — this in a time when shifting federal stimulus dollars from the capital budget to the operational budget is hotly debated. Admittedly, I don’t know the dollar-amounts associated with them.

    On the other hand, the concept of using our oceans as a wastebasket for used railcars always seemed a bit fishy to me (pun intended).

    In the long run, it’s probably better to wait on these. If the entire B-fleet gets replaced at about the same time, then it will come due for replacement at the same time. And whose to say the MTA (or its successor) will be prepared to do that so many years down the line?

  6. SEAN says:

    Ben yesturday had a post reguarding disability advocate groups filing descrimination sewts. Sort of along those lines, the older subway carsR-68’s & prior are not configgured to carry wheelchairs. If seats at the ends of the cars were removed, that could be a tremendous benefit for disabled riders. I have no idea of the costs of such a project though.

  7. Al D says:

    “seven times more likely to fall apart”. What in the world does this actually mean? I’ve been riding the subways for more years than I care to admit at the moment, and I have yet to ride a train or hear about a train that ‘fell apart’ while in service. And seven times more likey than what exactly?

    • Brian says:

      That is just a tactic for more people to dislike the 32’s and 42’s. One reason that the article fails to mention is that you should blame it on shops that maintains the remaining 32’s and 42’s.

      • Andrew says:

        I doubt Heather Haddon cares which car classes you like or dislike. Nor do I think she is attempting to assign blame.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s probably a confused reference to reliability – mean distance between failures, or MDBF. Trains don’t fall apart, but they do sometimes fail.

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