Finding the trains least air conditioned

By · Published in 2011

Ahhhh, the first heat wave of summer. Time for a rush on air conditioners, the stench of garbage to return to the streets and, of course, articles about how hot it is in the subway system. Today’s piece comes to us from the Daily News, and it serves as a guide to the hottest and coldest trains. Pete Donohue reports that 93 percent of subway cars had temperatures “within MTA guidelines” last year. That’s defined as a temperature between 58 and 78 degrees.

While those numbers are reassuring, Donohue discovered that the worst trains for beating the heat are the above-ground Franklin Ave. Shuttle and the C train cars. Only 83 percent of the shuttle cars were properly climate-controlled while the air conditioner failed on the C’s aging R32s nine percent of the time. The L, meanwhile, had 100 percent compliance with the temperature guidelines.

For its part, the MTA is optimistic that fewer cars will be too hot this summer. A spokesman told Donohue that mechanics along the C line “replaced all of the compressors and made other fixes over the winter.” So now which New York news outlet will cover the story about how hot subway platforms get first? My money’s on this guy.

21 Responses to “Finding the trains least air conditioned”

  1. Todd says:

    There’s a lot to complain about with The MTA, but at least they keep most of the cars cool. I can’t imagine what it was like back in the day, riding without A/C.

  2. Joe says:

    Well. Isn’t this a bit of a statistical error problem for the shuttle? Given that they only use a handful of cars for the operation of the line, it seems like that begs a bit of qualification.

  3. tacony palmyra says:

    Brr… 78 isn’t sweat-inducing but 58 is cold enough to make someone sick in light summer clothes! I hate having to dress for the train (a winter coat would be nice) and the wait for the train in the 100 degree station (naked would be preferable).

    • Andrew says:

      I’m glad 78 isn’t sweat-inducing for you, but it is for me, and I’m not alone. And that’s before the train gets crowded and other sweaty people are pressed up against me.

      If 58 makes you sick, I suggest you see your doctor. I can’t imagine what sort of illness would result from temperatures that high. It may make you uncomfortable, but that’s about it. It’s easier for you to put on a sweater (or do you normally wear a winter coat when it’s 58 out?!) than for me to take off my shirt. It’s excessive heat that tends to cause the health problems in summer. Besides, the trains aren’t cooled to 58.

      • Alon Levy says:

        58 is well below the temperature you can get with air conditioning – lowest I’ve seen in Singapore is about 63, and 66 is more common – which means that 58 is the minimum target temperature in winter.

  4. Bg says:

    The best place to stand or sit is near the center of the train car–the a/c vents in the ceiling don’t run to the ends of the cars, where it can get quite a lot warmer.

  5. BBnet3000 says:

    There can be advantages to an un-airconditioned car. Sometimes id rather sit in the heat alone than crowd into the air conditioned car next door.

  6. Scott E says:

    I just know that when I cross the platform from a Kawasaki R62 (#3 train) to a Bombardier R62A (#1 train), the Bombardier a/c always seems to feel cooler. There’s also an odd smell associated with it, that I haven’t quite identified. Not a foul smell, but one that’s very noticeable and hard to describe. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

    Oh, and I couldn’t stand Greg Mocker from the first day I saw him on Channel 11.

  7. Phil says:

    And I thought the C couldn’t get any worse…

    • Andrew says:

      This report refers to last year. So far this summer, I’ve found the C pretty cool. We’ll see how it holds up.

  8. Jerrold says:

    By the way, it’s Franklin AVE. shuttle, usually called just the Franklin Shuttle.
    Franklin St. is a station on the #1 line.

  9. John-2 says:

    Hopefully they’ve pre-planned for hot weather on the C this year — I was stuck on R-32 No. 3400 on that 103-degree day last July during rush hour and it was a true flashback to ye olden days of the early 1970s, when stumbling onto an air-conditioned train on most of the B division was just a happy accident and you just had to sweat it out or ride close to one of the open end doors (I know things got bad enough last year that some of the retired R-44s were returned to service just to take advantage of their working compressors; not sure if there are still enough R-44s mothballed right now to do the same thing if the problem with the R-32s crops up again).

  10. Alon Levy says:

    I actually like very low temperatures on trains in summer, because I come in after having sweltered on the platforms. In Singapore (and in the Southern US), they try to keep everything at 19 C. I’m generally fine with the amount of air conditioning in New York – it could be better at the stations, but the trains are okay. By the standards of Paris, it’s perfect.

  11. Shabazz Stuart says:

    Doesn’t the Shuttle only have 2 trains of 2 cars…. 83 percent??? really?

  12. Kai B says:

    I wonder if the shuttle’s problem is that due to its short length of service and its standing around in the heat with at least one door open for 10 minutes at a time at either end prevents it from reaching the desired temperature. In other words, the A/C units are probably fine but they don’t get to bring the temperature down enough during the five-minute ride.

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