Home Rolling Stock As Bombardier struggles, R179 delay to cost MTA $50 million

As Bombardier struggles, R179 delay to cost MTA $50 million

by Benjamin Kabak

The first R179s will not be delivered until 2018, four years later than promised. (Rendering via Bomardier)

The rolling stock on the C line has become something of a running joke. Every summer, the MTA replaces the R32s with fancy new cars due to concerns over air conditioning power, and every fall, riders are disappointed when the cars, which debuted during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency in 1964, make their return. Had all gone according to plan, the MTA would be gearing up to phase out those 51-year-old subway cars along with the R42s in use on the J/Z line. But all has not gone according to plan, and it’s about to cost the MTA at least $50 million over the next few years.

The story first came to us from Dan Rivoli. The Daily News transit reporter combed through copious amounts of MTA budget documents to find the note on Page V-222 of this pdf file. In this brief note, the MTA notes that final delivery of the R179s has been pushed back a few years, and “increased revenue service fleet requirements” means these cars can’t be retired until 2022, five years later than expected. Maintenance to keep the the ancient rolling stock moving will total $1.1 million next year, $15.9 million 2017, $17.7 million in 2018, and $15.5 million in 2019.

The delay stems from performance issues with Bombardier. The Canada-based manufacture had been, to much fanfare in 2012 from the governor, set to produce these cars in its Plattsburgh, NY plant, but delivery, originally scheduled to begin this year, is not on time. The MTA and Bomardier said to DNA Info that a welding issue is to blame, and New York’s isn’t the only transit agency experiencing trouble with the company. Toronto’s TTC may terminate a billion-dollar contract with Bombardier over delivery delays, and the company is going through some economic turbulence these days.

So what exactly went wrong? With the company remaining silent, it’s hard to say, and it’s not as though they’re new to the game. Bombardier had fulfilled various rolling stock orders throughout the 1980s and 1990s for Metro-North, Transit and the LIRR. In fact, the 1030-car R142 order consists entirely of Bombardier-made rolling stock.

Yet, a closer look at the MTA’s board documents from early 2012 [pdf] reveals some early caution flags. Bombardier’s bid of $599 million for the rolling stock order came in under a bid by an Alstom/Kawaski. In its board materials, the MTA noted a cost savings of around $12.4 million — a total that has been completely wiped away by Bombardier’s late delivery. The bid assessment notes that Bombardier’s technical presentation was “acceptable” but that the ALSKAW bid “ranked higher” in “technical merit.” In other words, ALSKAW was better positioned to deliver on the specs of the R179 order, but Bombardier offered a better price. Since the MTA hadn’t disqualified Bombardier, the company won the contract, and here we are.

Originally, Bombardier was to deliver the test set of the R179s late last year with the remainder split between delivery around now and early 2017. Now, new cars won’t start arriving until 2018, and much to the consternation of regular riders, retirement won’t arrive until early next decade. The R32s, which average only 58,101 miles between breakdowns, will have to keep chugging along until then, and while I hate to draw conclusions on a company that had delivered on promises in the past, I am tempted to say that you get what you pay for. It’s a lesson in low-bid contracts we learn over and over again.

On that note, I’ll leave you tonight with art from one of those regular C train riders who can’t wait for the R32s to be reefed. WNYC’s Jim O’Grady has quite the pen on this one.

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Abba August 14, 2015 - 12:58 am

Is it just me or I don’t hear much about mechanical problems on the (C) train?

Herb Lehman August 14, 2015 - 7:15 am

That’s because the C barely ever runs (10 minute headways even during rush hour). A train that doesn’t run can’t suffer many mechanical problems.

al August 14, 2015 - 10:47 am

I thought C train headway was every 7 or 8 min.

Herb Lehman August 14, 2015 - 2:00 pm



There are a couple of 8- and 9- minute headways toward the end of morning rush hour. But I also spotted a couple of 11-minute gaps and a 13-minute gap during the afternoon rush.

Nyland8 August 14, 2015 - 6:51 am

So … let me get this straight. This long overdue MTA contract turns out to be just a jobs program for upstate.

Is there even a workforce in Plattsburgh?

Kevin August 14, 2015 - 8:46 am

I think they liked this plan because everything would be doneup in Plattsburgh. I guess they weren’t happy enough with just the finishing plant Kawasaki has in Yonkers that processes car bodies produced in Lincoln, NE.

Robert August 14, 2015 - 11:05 am

Actually, I think it’s great that we send work upstate.
I just wish someone would TELL THAT TO THE UPSTATE VOTERS and their representatives when they are always cutting the MTA budget.

adirondacker12800 August 14, 2015 - 12:47 pm

If they have work they aren’t eligible for food stamps and Medicaid…

Nathanael August 15, 2015 - 4:32 pm

The workers in upstate cities are basically disenfranchised.

Look at the precinct-level maps for any elections: the cities are all Democratic-voting “blue”, but we’ve been gerrymandered in such a way that we’re swamped by rural areas (with the larger cities carved into three or four districts), so that all our state Senate representatives are Republican.

adirondacker12800 August 15, 2015 - 4:50 pm

People have been talking about the three Cs for as long as I can remember, compact, coterminal and contiguous. I suspect we’ll be talking about it until the Republicans go the way of the Whigs.
…they are drifting towards going the way of the No-Nothings..

Larry Littlefield August 14, 2015 - 7:39 am

NYCT always has troubles with cars out of Plattsburgh, an upstate location where the workers know they owe their jobs to politics, not performance. Kind of like the LIRR (thank you Andrew Cuomo). In the end they get fixed.

Based on technical merit, the MTA would always pick Kawasaki. But then it would face a monopoly, with consequences much like what we have with signal replacement.

“Increased revenue service fleet requirements.”

If you want more service, they need more cars. So they are keeping the old cars longer. That’s a good thing.

And the R32s deserve more respect. They were, for decades, the MOST reliable cars in the fleet, reliable even when TWU workers were sloughing off like LIRR workers. They were the first stainless steel cars, and were less heavy and used far less power as a result. The massive nostalgia accorded the last painted cars should very well be accorded to these cars, among the last built by the Budd company in Philadelphia.

As for the air conditioning, they are the last cars that did not have air conditioning as original equipment. My guess is the MTA has chosen not to repair the jury-rigged AC because with summer demand lower, they can simply take the cars out of service. (They at least to run 10 car trains on the #7 line rather than 11 car trains for the same reason — part of the fleet had no AC).

BTW, one of the justifications for the MTA’s MASSIVE debt is that its train cars will last much lower than in the past. They refinanced 30 year bonds into 50 year bonds in 2000 with that claim.

LLQBTT August 14, 2015 - 9:23 am

Thank you for your comment about the R32. I was always pleased when one would show up back in the day because I knew that they would actually get me to where I was going. Any other equipment at the time, the R38, R42, R44 and the older stuff was a crap shoot. But the R32 was getting there no matter what.

al August 14, 2015 - 10:56 am

50 years…
Then why is it that the MTA Capital Plan call for R62 and R68 replacement after 40-45 years?

The R44 on SIRT are looking to last till 2020, ~50 years after IOC. Considering the MTA debt issues, R46 should run just as long (2025-2030). However, that may require a rebuild.

Another thing to consider is the high scrap prices for stainless steel. R32 might just end up as scrap metal, not reefs.

Larry Littlefield August 14, 2015 - 11:09 am

I think NYCT has put too much money into cars and rolling stock and buses, and not enough into the infrastructure, because that’s what people can see. Then the service deteriorates because of the infrastructure.

Meanwhile, they have to replace the cars very young on the LIRR, because the workers don’t bother to do the maintenance tasks they are assigned.

Back in the 1980s, when NYCT wanted to go to scheduled maintenance on the buses, they put together these kits of parts to be replaced. The union would have the workers just replace a few of the worst parts, and then throw the rest — which cost $1,000s — in the garbage. And do replacement after break downs.

That was a long time ago with regard to NYCT. But I’ll bet it isn’t on the LIRR.

Brooklynite August 14, 2015 - 7:43 pm

It’s true that TA has spent much more on rolling stock than stations and other infrastructure, but at the same time it’s much easier to maintain rolling stock: just roll it off to a yard. A signal system can’t be fixed somewhere else.

And that bus “maintenance” thing sounds ridiculous. Is there a written source confirming? If it actually happened, why weren’t the workers fired on the spot?

Anonymous August 17, 2015 - 8:44 am

One word: unions.

Nathanael August 22, 2015 - 6:06 pm

We know that the LIRR still has “maintenance workers” billing for time when they’ve wandered off to do something else (for, say, an entire afternoon); it was documented by cameras at one of their maintenance bases a year or two ago (and reported on the now-hard-to-read LIRR Today IIRC), and last I checked the guilty parties were still employed.

Some of the LIRR union locals have apparently fought against “punch in punch out” timekeeping, basically in order to continue running scams.

Of course, it isn’t all the unions’ fault.

The management is completely complicit. A management who wanted to nail these guys could, even if it resulted in interruptions in service.

The most opprobrium must go to Long Island politicians, who are perfectly happy with the management and unions wasting or stealing taxpayer money…. but panic if there are any interruptions in service, and demand that the corrupt employees be put back on the job and given whatever they’re asking for, no matter how unreasonable.

Dexter August 16, 2015 - 11:00 am

Because 40 years is the supposed lifetime of a stainless steel train for this system. The R32s would, in fact, be gone had it not been for the structural issues with the R44.

Nathanael August 15, 2015 - 4:31 pm

Siemens could bid against Kawasaki no problem. So could the Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo consortium…

Bombardier used to be a good train manufacturer; recent management has screwed them up.

ex employee May 3, 2016 - 1:40 pm

Bull. I’m am with a new car builder now. Worked in Plattsburgh for 15 years as a quality inspector. Same there as it is in the new place I am at. Kawasaki is the same. Worked on cars built by them as well. Not the workers fault the company buys bad parts from the vendor. The workers build the cars with a high level of quality so leave them out of it. It comes down to the company bidding so low they settle with bad suppliers which creates all the issues. The workers only put them together. They don’t build the components that go on it.

Rich B August 14, 2015 - 7:53 am

Hmm. Last night I read an article that clearly said bad welds in the first test train – scheduled for delivery in late 2014 – were to blame. I thought it was that Daily News article… they may have updated it to remove that. Weird. It said there were enough bad welds to reject all ten cars, and both Bombardier and MTA inspectors found the cracked welds. The DNAinfo article references the part I’m talking about:

Manufacturer Bombardier encountered welding issues with the more modern, R179 cars, an MTA spokeswoman said, and the company is “actively pursuing strategies to mitigate that delay.”

Roger August 14, 2015 - 8:54 am

Surely there are penalties for late delivery that offset the increased maintenance costs?

Rich B August 14, 2015 - 8:56 am


Stephen August 14, 2015 - 10:42 am


Brooklynite August 14, 2015 - 7:46 pm

Cynically, I’d say that those penalties are going into somebody’s pocket, since MTA now has a legitimate reason to request more funding from the state/city. Who knows, I may actually be not that far off…

Anonymous August 14, 2015 - 8:56 am

I sure hope that the MTA is able to make Bombardier pay at least some of that amount of money (especially since there’s nothing revolutionary about the R179 which would cause a delay)

Otherwise this’ll take a while.

Joe Fubeetz August 14, 2015 - 9:10 am

“increased revenue service fleet requirements” = second avenue subway

Rich B August 14, 2015 - 9:14 am

That’s not my understanding. The R179 order was originally made in anticipation of SAS. This new change reflects an unexpected rise in ridership and off-peak service increases in response.

al August 14, 2015 - 10:58 am

You can meet higher off-peak demand by running the existing train sets more. There is the issue of higher peak demand, which one could meet with more short turn runs.

Rich B August 14, 2015 - 11:01 am

You’re correct. I hadn’t finished my morning coffee yet. 😉 I assume it’s about meeting peak demand, then.

Brooklynite August 14, 2015 - 7:47 pm

Given the MTA’s pathetic weekend headways this isn’t as much a factor as it is in London for instance, but all the trains running during the peak have to be maintained at some point. Hence, off-peak frequencies are necessarily lower than during the rush hour.

Robert August 14, 2015 - 11:09 am

I also read somewhere that part of the reason is that they need the lighter ( old ) trains to run on Myrtle Ave / Broadway while they are doing repairs on it… which leads to three questions:

Is that the only reason they need the old cars to remain in service.

Will those repairs on a single track junction take until 2022? ? ?

WHY are the NEWER cars, made with new tech actually HEAVIER than older cars? Seriously, why? After 60 years, we should be able to make these about 25% LIGHTER than the old ones. That would lighten the load on both the electric systems and the 100+ year old deficient el tracks.

Larry Littlefield August 14, 2015 - 11:57 am

Interesting questions. I’m not sure if your information is correct. But I do know this. The old BMT eastern division, basically the J/Z, is the oldest part of the rapid transit system.

Basically the distinction between the old Els and “subways” on elevated structures is that the subway elevated structures are much heavier and stronger and could hold heavy steel cars. Whereas the old Els were only strong enough for wooden subway cars.

You can see the difference by comparing the massive steel pillars for NYC’s elevated subways with the much thinner structure for the Chicago El, which runs lighter cars in shorter trains.

Now I recall reading at some point that there was some section of the BMT eastern that was never upgraded to subway standards. I believe that is also the only at-grade crossover junction left on the NYC subways system (there is a massive crossover bottleneck on the Chicago Loop).

Hank August 14, 2015 - 2:38 pm

Franklin Ave Interlocking on the Brooklyn IRT and 135th/Lenox St Interlocking on the IRT in Manhattan are also at-grade crossover junctions.

Bolwerk August 18, 2015 - 11:25 am

Well, some equipment does seem to be getting heavier. The 70′ R44 weighed 84,530-88,950 (B vs A car) while the 60′ R160 is about 85,200.

adirondacker12800 August 14, 2015 - 12:56 pm

You have to check the length of the cars. Newer subways can use longer cars. The older El has to use shorter cars to get around the curves. So does the IRT. And the Chicago El. PATH. IRT, El and PATH are narrower too.

Larry Littlefield August 14, 2015 - 1:29 pm

The BMT Eastern Division can use the standard 60-foot B Division cars, but not the 75-foot cars. I think they should stop buying 75-foot cars, in the name of standardization, in case they ever decide to do platform doors at selected stations.

adirondacker12800 August 14, 2015 - 3:36 pm

75 foot cars get the same length of train with less cars. The fleets are big enough that it makes sense to take advantage of that.

Robert August 14, 2015 - 1:43 pm

Actually, looked it up! The R179B and R32 are almost identical car length, but the newer ones are about 4k pounds heavier.

As for the old El tracks… they should just rip them down and replace with concrete structures like the Air Train. Long term would probably be cheaper. Short term, would be quieter and much less of a blight on the street below.

Nyland8 August 15, 2015 - 2:17 pm

” … Short term, would be quieter and much less of a blight on the street below.”

Much, much quieter. But unlike the skeletal steel construction, the pre-stressed, pre-cast, post-tensioned concrete superstructure completely blots out the sun. Perhaps if the rails were always stacked on top of each other to provide the narrowest profile, and the sides were painted white, or made reflective, then enough light would make it to the street below to be a true improvement.

Rich B August 18, 2015 - 11:49 am

I think newer cars have a lot more stuff. Much of it is light (electronic displays, sound dampening) but some has weight (a cabinet full of CBTC electronics, added suspension and safety systems) and some might be quite heavy (regenerative braking gear, which I assume includes banks of batteries, yes?) It all adds up.

adirondacker12800 August 18, 2015 - 10:58 pm

The regenerative braking is more or less running the propulsion, backwards. There’s gonna be some more electronic doohickeys on board to do that but not a whole lot. Whatever the HVAC doesn’t use can go back into the third rail to be used by other trains. The storage can be back at the substation. Design the substation correctly, those 4 times a year when all the trains decide to brake at the same time it can go back into the grid.

Edward Skira August 14, 2015 - 9:24 am

And in Toronto they went with Bombardier for the new streetcars because the streetcar factory is in Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay is to Toronto what Plattsburgh is to New York City.


Fbfree August 14, 2015 - 10:16 am

Don’t blame the Thunder Bay workers, blame the supply chain management of the company. Factory workers were layed off for lack of working parts to make the streetcars with.

Nathanael August 15, 2015 - 4:29 pm

Yep. Supply chain mismanagement would be a better description.

I’m not sure when Bombardier management lost their *minds*, but the aircraft division is even more mismanaged than the rail division. I expect bankruptcy within the year.

Peter August 14, 2015 - 9:54 am

One would expect a well-drafted purchase contract to stipulate that Bombardier face a financial penalty for failing to deliver on schedule.

Although I agree the R32s are long overdue for replacement, I appreciate the nostalgic value of riding those old cars. I especially enjoy watching the conductors move back and forth between the two center cars depending on which side of the train platforms, although it must be incredibly annoying for them! I have often wondered how anyone ever signed off on that as an acceptable design, and also how intimidating it must have been for conductors during the bad old days, when moving through cars meant potentially encountering a variety of unsavory characters.

The retirement of that fleet will ultimately be good for riders and MTA workers, but we’ll have lost a bit of transit history.

Jason August 14, 2015 - 10:28 am

In the old days, conductors had to stand outside between cars on stirrups to open and close the doors.

Larry Littlefield August 14, 2015 - 10:43 am

I believe the R32s are the last cars with a “railfan window” in the front, because they don’t have full-length cabs.

Michael August 14, 2015 - 2:21 pm

From a previous message: “I believe the R32s are the last cars with a “railfan window” in the front, because they don’t have full-length cabs.”

Simply due to the “railfan window” is a major reason I think that as rail-fans that we should not be in such to rush to push the R-32’s off to the train-yard in the sky!

Plenty of rail-fans and others learned of the workings of the subways from the “railfan window” – a vanishing very useful perspective.


Rich B August 14, 2015 - 2:34 pm

It will all come full circle when we (eventually) have fully-automatic trains with no cab at all, like many European cities have already. The new L9/L10 trains in Barcelona have a gloriously huge front window that anyone can stand in. I enjoyed that quite a bit on my last trip there. Paris also has three automated lines. Check out this adorable photo of a kid “driving” an automated Parisian subway train:


BDawe August 15, 2015 - 1:09 am

Ha! NY still uses conductors, like it’s 1915. I’d doubt we’ll see full automation by the time I’m dead.

Brooklynite August 15, 2015 - 10:54 am

We already have automated trains on the L. The problem is political, not technological.

Anonymous August 17, 2015 - 8:56 am

Fat chance. NYC still has conductors without any plans to get rid of them in normal weekday service. And the brief period when they ran without them on the L resulted in the union inevitably protesting it and politicians immediately bowing to the union.

It’ll only happen once someone willing to pick a fight with the unions will be elected in Albany. So probably not.

Rich B August 17, 2015 - 11:05 am

Oh, I know. Emphasis on “eventually”. I’m sure unions will drag it out for many years. But in a couple of decades, when the rest of the world’s subways are completely automated and our own trains are technically capable of running in automatic mode, we’ll be discussing another fare hike. People will ask why, and maybe, just maybe, then NYC can have a frank discussion about exactly how costly and inefficient it is to have two people per train when zero are required.

Maria August 14, 2015 - 10:46 am

One of my friends has said I shouldn’t waste my concern over the conductors who have to do this because they have great pensions, but I still think it’s kind of absurd that it’s illegal for everyone else but one of their job requirements.

Brooklynite August 14, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Crossing between cars is still perfectly safe, but for the risk of some idiot injuring themselves and suing. The Transit Museum fantrips still run with the doors between cars open!

Michael August 15, 2015 - 9:00 pm

Air-conditioned subway cars benefit, just like other air-conditioned spaces, from having the doors and windows closed as much as possible.

I remember when the subway cars on the IRT lines were being retro-fitted with ceiling air-conditioning units – that the door stops on the end doors were removed, so that those doors would always slide closed.

Prior to that time, both riders and conductors would simply reach upward to apply the door-stop to keep the end-doors open, especially on very hot days.


Kevin Walsh August 14, 2015 - 10:48 am

The A needs new cars. One of the busiest lines in the system uses R46 cars dating to 1972!

al August 14, 2015 - 11:04 am

from the Web:

Kevin Walsh August 14, 2015 - 10:52 am

And, the worst problem with the C isn’t the age of the cars — I like the R32’s and the AC is like an icebox in the summer. It’s car length. It’s insanity to run 8-car trainsets especially during rush hour.

Stephen August 14, 2015 - 10:53 am

“lesson in low-bid contracts”
Reminds me of the comment the astronaut made when he realized he was sitting on top of the rocket and noted that it was made by the lowest-bid contractor. I don’t know if he was right, but it spoke to the government’s mind-set about the end-all and be-all being about the lowest price.
Ok, so I decided to find out who said it. John Glenn.
He was asked what it felt like sitting atop the rocket, ready to launch? “I felt about as good as anybody would, sitting in a capsule on top of a rocket that were both built by the lowest bidder.” (Senator John Glenn, Colonel USMC, Retired)
And it turns out Alan Shepard also made a similar remark: According to Gene Kranz in his book, Failure Is Not an Option, “When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, ‘The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.'”

John-2 August 14, 2015 - 11:34 am

Change orders by low bidders is the bane of every governmental entity. Usually the ones that pull that type of ‘bait-and-switch’ long enough and on enough contracts get Xed out of the bid process. But as noted above, the location of the Bombardier plant and the relative infrequency with which the MTA orders new railcars makes putting the company on time-out problematic.

If you keep them away from enough contracts, they’d shutter Plattsburgh and you’d get the blame (which, ironically, would be less of a problem if NYCTA was still in control of the city government — as a creature of Albany, the MTA has to be aware of more than just city politics, and doesn’t have to simply do what’s best for the subway system in New York City, but what’s best for the upstate economy where the railcars are made.

As far as the R-32s, it does look as if the MTA will fund a final SMS on the cars starting in 2017, based on the nearly $15 million bump in expenditures listed in the .pdf document. That could help bump the MBDF on the cars up some as we get closer to the end of the decade, though it would be nice to see a break-out on how much problems with the R-32s air-conditioning during the summer months is responsible for the lower MBDF and how much is actual mechanical issues that affect movement of the cars.

Justin Bernard August 14, 2015 - 11:48 am

A bit of correction to the article. TTC will not be terminating the contract. The TTC is considering barring Bombardier from bidding on future contracts for an additional 60 streetcars.

JJJJ August 14, 2015 - 12:07 pm

So everyone here is blaming upstate for not being able to build a train right, but why not blame for local MTA maintenance?

Buenos Aires ran trains for 98 years. MTA cant even maintain trains for half that time?

Benjamin Kabak August 14, 2015 - 12:34 pm

Setting aside how those cars were essentially rebuilt from the frame up in the late 1980s, I’m not sure that’s a point of pride. The MTA could keep the R32s running; after all, just because MDBF is down doesn’t mean the trains can’t run. But a good transit agency should be able to continue to modernize.

JJJJ August 14, 2015 - 2:24 pm

I think this country has too much of a mania about throwing things away and replacing them.

See also: stadiums in the US vs rest of world, where 20 years is considered obsolete vs 100 years old being perfectly fine.

BDawe August 15, 2015 - 1:14 am

That might be true of a lot of things in the United States, but when it comes to things that move about on rails it definitely isn’t true. You’ve got these cars on the subway, even older ones on BART out west. Amtrak’s main fleet is mostly from the 1970s, with parts of it from the 1940s or 1950s. Sure, they’re scrapping Acela relatively young, but (oh hey, Bombardier again) built an obese train that couldn’t handle being FRA compliant at the speeds its subjected to.

Roadman142a July 16, 2016 - 10:34 am

Nothing you said made sense Acelas not being scrapped and Amtraks road locos (P42,ACS-64 ect) Are all relatively new

Brooklynite August 14, 2015 - 7:53 pm

After a certain point, it becomes cheaper to replace a fleet than to keep maintaining it. I’m not familiar with Buenos Aires’ fleet procurement strategies but I’m assuming they weren’t in a position to get enough capital funding at once to buy new cars.

BruceNY August 14, 2015 - 2:24 pm

Long live the the R-32, and its wonderful, unobstructed view out the front railfan window! If only they had kept the straps instead of replacing them with bars in the 1980’s.

rr22 August 14, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Most the subway trains in Moscow are from the 1950s and still working quite well. A little bit loud inside, but ubiquitous and reliable.

VLM August 14, 2015 - 3:55 pm

Are you sure you’re not talking about commuter rail? Most of Moscow’s Metro rolling stock is brand new.

anonymouse August 15, 2015 - 12:32 am

Oldest current cars in the Moscow Metro were built in 1973, and they’ve had significant refurbishment since then. They’re going to be replaced in the next few years (2018 according to Wikipedia), and in general, there’s been a concerted effort to replace all the rolling stock with more modern stuff. I’d say that at this point “most” of the subway trains are from the 90s or later.

Spendmor Wastemor August 15, 2015 - 2:01 pm

New York has a substantial tourist, film and TV component, which indirectly brings in a ton of cash. Without some sort of mystique fewer people would put up with this high priced hassle.

Yep, I’m proposing the R32s get a full overhaul adding some workaround for the AC issue, which is highly doable since it’s a 140 year old technology. Then fix the brake squeal, and make a modest reduction in general noise level, which are also technically well understood. Keep the 32s around on one line, perhaps with a summer swap. I’d also fit them out with waterproof motors and snow plows, so they can continue running through the next blizzard.

Provided the AC works, the cars get cleaned and they don’t break down I don’t think most riders will care. The 32s feel a bit bigger inside than some of the others for some reason, maybe the sides are thinner.

They’re also a reminder that at one time ‘Made in USA’ meant something other than artisinal cupcakes and reality TV. There’s a subtle, pervasive demoralization that comes from seeing your country decline to a point where it seems it cannot compete with the world. For some, making the US more like the 3rd world is a lifelong dream. For people who need a job to raise a family, it’s a nightmare.

johndmuller August 16, 2015 - 3:33 am

The US still has a substantial presence in the production of at least a few “real” products – for example, Agriculture, Commercial Aircraft and all sorts of things related to Warfare. Otherwise, you are correct that we are limited to products of a more ethereal nature, such as Entertainment, Finance, Advertising, and Consulting; I’m not sure how to reckon the Computer and Internet-related businesses, as to how much they are a USA thing and whether they are too ephemeral to count anyway. Being the number one consumer of just about everything seems to be a very large factor in our continued solvency.

There are two other “industries” which play into this. One of them is Politics – perhaps our role as the Military and Economic powerhouse puts us in the role of Big Schoolyard Bully and massively discourages anyone from messing with us, even encouraging them to enable us. The other is “Economics”, another ethereal specialty which seems to be able to justify almost any practice, especially when used by politicians to back up their ideas.

All this will soon be supported by “Magic”, our next new industry, which will perpetuate this fragile foothold on prosperity somehow into the future.

Nathanael August 22, 2015 - 6:10 pm

Actually, most US military equipment sucks. We basically pay other countries to take it. Countries which are serious about warfare tend to buy the Russian and Chinese stuff…

ANYway, the US actually does have a strong hold in Computer and Internet stuff, although the government has repeatedly tried to damage the industry by doing stupid stuff (like the “Clipper chip” or the NSA spying) which encourages people to buy their computers and software from other countries. The US government basically single-handedly boosted the European software industry with this crap…

d. August 16, 2015 - 3:39 pm

R32 is a 60 footers.. Not big . The only aka big subway car is 75 footers R46 , R68 in NYCT

Anonymous August 18, 2015 - 6:19 am

There’s may be just one problem with your idea. What’s the state of the traction motors? While I have no doubts about the R32’s structural integrity (one of the reasons they sent them to the Rockaways), they have been worn out over the last 50 years. (probably not as bad as the heavier cars before and after, but still). Their technology isn’t too advanced either so it’s easier to repair (though spare parts would have to be made specifically for them, increasing cost). But if some of the harder to repair parts have broken down you may end up having to replace the traction motors. Which requires new control equipment. And while you’re at it might as well fit a new cab to fit everything easier. And BOOM, suddenly a new car doesn’t differ much in price at all. (though I give it to you that a completely rebuilt R32 would be a really powerful car due to it’s lightweight construction).

Nathanael August 15, 2015 - 4:27 pm

For reference, Bombardier as a company is in BIG BIG trouble. Let me run down in order:
(1) They threw all their money into the “C Series” commercial aircraft. It’s late, orders are being cancelled, they got beaten on delivery by both Boeing and Airbus.
(2) In order to prop up C-Series, they’ve shut down their profitable Learjet division and stopped development on their profitable Global business jet division, destroying all the profitable parts of their airline division.
(3) The profitable rail division is having its profits extracted to prop up C-Series as well.
(4) The rail division is way behind on a very large order for streetcars in Toronto, due partly to an insane attempt to outsource parts to Mexico, and partly to a strike related to this outsourcing attempt.
(5) They’ve already had to raise a large amount of capital (diluting the stock) and are trying to sell off part of the rail division to prop up C-Series.
(6) And now they can’t execute the NYC Subway order either…

Bombardier should be expected to declare bankruptcy within a year.

salli August 15, 2015 - 11:35 pm

Why everyone forgetting Kawasaki Rail Car did refuse to built R179 in 2012. While Kawasaki Rail Car got award or handling the R142A and mostly rebuilded the R142A converted to R188. A rebuilt car… If this saga continue. Alstom Transportation should of been award R179. When Kawasaki Rail car refuse to built.. Or NYCT can consider purchasing R160S ( R160 supplement order ) remaining… A short order..

Adrian August 16, 2015 - 11:25 am

Can MTA at least get money back on this unfulfilled deal, at least to cover the maintenance of the still in use trains?

Sam August 16, 2015 - 3:34 pm

No. MTA cannot get refund or money back.. When Bombardier transportation built 10 cars set of Test Train R179 already .. At least Bombardier can pay penalty.. How long R179 is not delivered. Make sense. Bombardier paying penalty than fine is ok. Rather than motor is recall..


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