Home Capital Program 2015-2019 New Capital Plan set to include open gangway prototype order

New Capital Plan set to include open gangway prototype order

by Benjamin Kabak

When the MTA released its revised capital plan earlier this fall, a few tidbits caught my eye. Although I mentioned them via the Second Ave. Sagas Twitter account, I failed to write the follow-up posts. So let’s revisit these items, starting today with the promise open gangways.

The concept of rolling stock with open gangways — articulated train sets — is one of those not-in-New York ideas we’ve come to know and warily examine over the years. The MTA has issued numerous excuses — tight curves, safety concerns that were valid 25 or 30 years ago — that seem to ring hollow, and every now and then, the agency nods at the idea of five-car sets with open walkways. The last serious consideration came in 2013 when the MTA’s 20-year needs document acknowledged the benefits of rolling stock with open gangways.

For the MTA, a design with open gangways is a long overdue need. It’s an easy way to boost subway capacity by, as we explored earlier this year, around 8-10 percent per subway train without increasing the frequency of a line, and as anyone who’s ridden the rails at rush hour lately can attest to, any capacity increase would help. So what’s the plan? It is, of course, a pilot.

According to the revised MTA 2015-2019 capital plan, the agency would purchase 10 open-gangway prototype cars with the $52.4 million expenditure allocated for 2016. For now, these prototypes are lumped in with the R-211 order that is supposed to start replacing the R46s over the next few years. It’s not yet clear where the MTA would run the open gangway prototype cars, how these cars would be designed or what the future holds for open gangways. When I last asked MTA officials about such a design, they told me that certain curves in Lower Manhattan may preclude running rolling stock with open gangways on all lines but that the MTA is committed to testing and, if possible, implementing a design with open gangways in the future.

Whenever this topic comes up, the usual complaints and critiques arise. In a Times article in 2013, the generation that remembers the Bad Old Days worried about crime. “Remember the time when we were in the high-crime era and gangs were roaming through the trains?” MTA Board member Andrew Albert said to Matt Flegenheimer. “Everybody loved the locked end doors.” Subway crime, of course, is at all-time lows and shows no signs of any meaningful increase. It ain’t the 1980s any longer.

Meanwhile, others have complained about disruptive buskers and the odors from homeless subway residents rendering half a train inhospitable rather than just one subway car. To this, I say it is New York exceptionalism at its finest, and we are not the special butterflies some would have us believe we are. These open gangways were standard operating procedure on the train lines I experienced in Berlin, Stockholm and Paris this past summer, and they worked great. Passengers could spread out through multiple subway cars, and the buskers moved on. Solving the homeless problem also shouldn’t prevent us from solving the more important capacity crunch, and as rolling stock comes up for replacement, eking out additional space via efficient design should be a priority.

So do we dare get our hopes up? Only 10 of the next 950 cars the MTA plans to order through the next capital plan will feature open gangways, and those that come online over the next few years will be expected to last another four or five decades. In other words, it’ll be a while before articulated train sets become standard. But this is a start, and a start is more than what we’ve had in the past.

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Brandon December 2, 2015 - 6:30 am

If all it takes to get 5% extra capacity (maybe a more realistic number?) along an entire line is to straighten/widen out a few curves or widen/replace the City Hall loop, wouldn’t that be a no brainer?

If the London Underground can do it on its extremely space-constrained deep lines, why can’t we do it on most if not all of ours?

In before the standard excuses about the homeless and having to unhook single cars all the time (as if the MTA does that anyway).

Eric December 2, 2015 - 7:55 am

Underground construction is super expensive, especially in NYC. Even a little bit of it.

Eric December 2, 2015 - 7:55 am

Not to mention usually done slowly and incompetently, like at South Ferry, so the result is no better than what you started with.

Nathanael December 22, 2015 - 3:20 am

There’s problems with the contractors in NY scamming the MTA. It has *got* to be possible to overcome this. Boston was being scammed on the Green Line Extension contract and just fired its contractors with prejudice.

AG December 22, 2015 - 5:49 pm

Boston is still having loads of problems with that project though. IF it still happens – it will be smaller in scope.


JMB December 2, 2015 - 10:18 am

I wonder if the curves the MTA are referring to are on the R train when it transitions from Broadway to Church. They are responsible for the slow crawl through lower Manhattan already. City Hall and South Ferry loops are also notorious.

Tower18 December 2, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Yes I think the City Hall curve is about the only place on the B division (other than the BMT Eastern) that would have a problem. But what I don’t understand is why a 60ft car with open gangways can’t run literally anywhere a 75ft car can go? If the R46 can negotiate City Hall, why couldn’t this new R211 prototype?

Brandon December 2, 2015 - 2:39 pm

Also, whether or not a train will fit is not a question you answer via prototyping. It’s a matter of measurement, or indeed a matter of “specify the minimum tunnel size in the RFP and let the proposers figure it out”.

paulb December 2, 2015 - 3:30 pm

That’s exactly the one I was thinking of, too.

Rich December 2, 2015 - 10:22 am

Good point about London. If they can do it, surely we can.

Even if we do have tighter curves on some old IRT lines, surely there’s a technical way to make the open gangways work at that radius? Does the MTA have zero faith in engineers? Just put out a damn RFP… with a billion-dollar order on the line, someone will figure it out.

Alon Levy December 2, 2015 - 11:35 am

The London Underground was built with wider curves – the minimum there is 60 meters, whereas in New York, a handful go down to about 40.

Paris, however, has a minimum curve radius of 40 meters, on Line 1.

Nathanael December 3, 2015 - 9:24 am

*scratch head* I’m quite sure the London Underground had tighter curves than that.

I’m thinking of the tube lines, not the subsurface lines. London decided that they wanted open gangways anyway, so they are specifying *shorter cars* with more points of articulation.

New York could do exactly the same thing, of course.

Subutay Musluoglu December 2, 2015 - 6:45 am

This pilot test of open gangway rolling stock is long overdue. The capacity issues we have been discussing have been the norm for several years now, and the MTA needed to be ahead of this curve. For an agency that routinely faces funding challenges and takes longer than necessary time to build new lines or implement new signaling, squeezing out new capacity with innovative rolling stock should have been explored two capital programs ago. In the meantime, we have seen new car orders placed for the #7 Line, and for the B Division to replace the R-32, R-44, and R-46 car classes. I don’t have the exact figure handy, but I estimate this represents over a 1000 cars that potentially could have been open gangway, operating on lines that could surely use every last square inch of extra space, either through direct replacement or cascading cars through the fleet.

Having said that, I believe that if this pilot test is deemed successful, the timing of this can work out fortuitously. Although the capital program does not specify which division the cars would be configured for, i suspect that it will be for the A Division. By 2023, the oldest of the R-62 and R-62A classes will have been in service for 40 years, and assuming that they are not given some sort of life extension overhaul, then it is reasonable to assume their replacements can be articulated open gangway cars. The next capital program would begin in 2020, and if the orders are placed in the first few years of the program, they would be arriving just as the first of the older cars are ready for retirement.

Finally, let us not forget that though the MTA likes to play it conservative when it comes to innovation (New York is special; it won’t work here; etc), we have a proven history of articulated open gangway rolling stock – the BMT pioneered the use of such cars in the late 1920s and through the 1930s with a number of different car classes – the Triplex, the Multi-Sections, the Green Hornet, the Bluebird, and the Zephyr. It’s a shame that the experience gained with those cars was not applied in the following decades and improved upon. We would be having a different conversation today.

tacony December 2, 2015 - 12:09 pm

Don’t forget that we also had the first driverless train in the world! One track of the 42nd Street shuttle was automated from 1962 to 1964! Hopefully this prototype order isn’t another “innovation” that gets scrapped and forgotten.

FYI to Ben, still getting the website hijack redirect issue viewing the site on my phone. Tells me I’ve won an iPhone 6. I don’t want one!

Benjamin Kabak December 2, 2015 - 12:12 pm

Can you send me the URL or screenshot of the ad? I’ll deal with the ad networks on this one.

Walt Gekko December 2, 2015 - 3:48 pm

Likely reason open gangways have not been considered until now have been in my view what was noted in this post about those older remembering the 1970’s and ’80s when crime was rampant and the subway was in its absolute worst condition (and I remember how bad the subways were then) and many from that time still think of the subways from then. As more of those people are no longer with us and are being replaced by younger individuals who are more open, this won’t have the opposition it would have even 10 years ago.

Henry December 6, 2015 - 2:06 pm

The real reason is probably how risk-averse the MTA is when it comes to new car orders, after what happened with the R44 and R46 and the Grand Central Shuttle automation; the MTA has been burned by rushing into new technologies before, so it’s safer for them not to try anything too crazy.

adirondacker12800 December 6, 2015 - 3:17 pm

The automated shuttle train worked reasonably well. The decision makers who worked on it retired a long time ago. Most of them are probably dead.

Robert LaMarca December 2, 2015 - 7:10 am

this site advocates and it seems to be happening… Don’t know if that is THE reason of course, but keep at it Mr Kabak.

pete December 2, 2015 - 7:49 am

Berlin, Stockholm and Paris Metros close at night making “homeless sleeping on the train” impossible. Berlin metro, a POP system, also forbids riding towards your origin station https://www.berlin.de/en/public-transportation/1772016-2913840-tickets-fares-and-route-maps.en.html https://shop.bvg.de/index.php/product/477/show/0/0/0/0/buy and their fare inspections will catch you. Until the MTA radically changes their fare policy, that only people seek transportation services are allowed to be airside, the entire subway will continue to be a Department of Homeless Services shelter.

Alon Levy December 2, 2015 - 11:29 am

Paris and Stockholm also have massive programs of public housing. (They both have a lot of panhandlers – more than New York – but they’re not homeless, they just live in the suburbs.)

Berlin has an even better program of affordable housing, called “post-communist economic collapse.”

Eric December 3, 2015 - 11:19 am

Houston has an even better program of affordable housing, called “no zoning”.

Brandon December 3, 2015 - 11:44 am

Houston has codes that regulate the built form and would be called zoning anywhere else, just not zoning by use.

AG December 3, 2015 - 1:00 pm

Houston is also a sprawling blob of anonymity no self respecting city in the 21st century would want to follow. If there was no energy industry there would be nothing there. In any even supply and demand dictate real estate costs more than any other factor.

adirondacker12800 December 3, 2015 - 4:03 pm

They would be transshipping agricultural products.

Nathanael December 22, 2015 - 3:25 am

Probably not. The end of the oil era will be very, very bad for Houston.

Cattle go north by rail; Dallas and Fort Worth were always the big transshipment points for Texas agriculture.

Any agricultural product going to the ocean would go via Corpus Christi or even Brownsville.

Houston used to ship cotton and lumber, but it’s severely disadvantaged for that now. There’s some rice paddies, but global warming is killing them.

Alon Levy December 2, 2015 - 11:31 am

As for Berlin, note that the restriction on riding toward your origin station only applies to single-ride tickets. If you have a zonal monthly pass, as most people do, they can’t know what your origin station even is.

Kai B December 2, 2015 - 5:17 pm

Berlin now runs 24 hours on the weekends. Good point on the origin station though.

SEAN December 2, 2015 - 8:25 am

If the TTC has the Toronto rocket, shouldn’t the MTA call their articulated cars New York Minutes?

Rob December 2, 2015 - 9:11 am

just a reminder that ny had them in the past — courtesy of the bmt, although not with the modern pc terminology.

BrooklynBus December 2, 2015 - 9:30 am

Looks like we will now be able to add open gangways to the list of other items “New York can never have”. Like according to the MTA, “the subways can never be air conditioned,” or the IRT can never be air conditioned, or it would cost to much to replace all the subway turnstiles, or articulated buses are not suitable for NYC streets, or three door articulated buses are not structurally sound, or we must have only diesel buses and we can’t use alternative fuels, or we can’t put wheelchair lifts or bike racks on buses. The only thing the MTA has not relented on is they can’t operate a fleet of smaller buses unless you count para transit which is contracted out.

So the question is how many other things is the MTA wrong about? We can’t lower construction costs, perhaps? Something to ponder.

BKTrain December 2, 2015 - 10:00 am

From what I had heard from sources, the vast majority of upper management at NYCT did not understand the need for open gangway and collectively decided against it for the R211 order. It was only an intervention by the Chairman himself that provided for these test trains in the 2015-2019 capital plan.

People, 2 trains out of 1000 is moving in the right direction but barely. That means 1000 new cars without gangways for the next 50 years (their projected lifespan). This agency is still dinosauric in most regards when compared to worldwide public transit systems. No other public transportation system outside the United States even orders trains without open gangway. This includes older systems similar to New York like Paris and Moscow.

The open gangways are only for 5 cars because of the need for a conductors cab. …If they were really forward thinking they’d just eliminate the conductors cab and have a 10 60-foot car gangway set with CCTV and OPTO and call it a day.

For those of you who say they can’t be maintained in the shops because 10 car open gangway consists can’t fit in NYCT, other properties do break up their gangway sets for maintenance, it can be done.

Rich December 2, 2015 - 10:17 am

Exactly. To all of this.

Nick Ober December 2, 2015 - 11:40 am

I wonder if it’s because Prendergast previously ran TransLink which operates SkyTrain rolling stock with open gangways. Makes me wish the MTA hired more folks who have previously run systems abroad that somehow manage to do things that are “impossible” in New York.

Nathanael December 3, 2015 - 10:02 am

To the extent that there is a conductor, it would be most helpful if the conductor was NOT hiding in a cab, but rather sitting out where the conductor can assist passengers.

I believe NYCT is the only system in the *entire world* with a conductor hiding in a cab. What do conductors do on LIRR, Metro-North, and Amtrak? They’re right out there with the passengers.

BillC December 5, 2015 - 10:46 am

Conductors on the LIRR hide in the cab.

Nathanael December 22, 2015 - 3:26 am

How do they collect tickets, then?

Rich December 2, 2015 - 10:30 am

Open gangways really are standard across the world. I have yet to visit a European city without them. Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels… I was just in Beijing… every line has them there, too.

It blows my mind that they can be so common elsewhere yet so rare in the US. And that’s the thing really: it’s not a NY issue, it’s the US as a whole.

kevdflb December 2, 2015 - 10:43 am

The last time most MTA Board members rode the trains regularly was the 80’s – so of course “Crime in the 80’s” is all they are capable of talking about…

George December 2, 2015 - 11:22 am

Could these be used to alleviate crowding on the Canarsie line?

anonymouse December 2, 2015 - 11:34 am

Note that open gangways are not at all the same thing as articulated trains (which NYC actually used to have). Articulated trains, as seen most easily on the HBLR, involve two or more train “cars” sharing trucks and generally allowing passengers to pass from one section to the other, though not always (for example on the River Line). But the whole articulated car is effectively one unit and splitting it apart requires cranes. Plus, with shared trucks, the trains have to be designed differently and the sections need to be somewhat shorter to still fit in the curves. Open gangway trains can be like that, or they can simply be conventional trains that are designed to be run only when coupled together, with the end of the car having a large opening designed to connect to the next car rather than a door. London’s S Stock and Class 378 trains are like this, and can be uncoupled relatively easily, though it’s not done often for lack of any need.

JJJJ December 2, 2015 - 11:38 am

You can walk through the middle of the RiverLine

mister December 3, 2015 - 1:29 am

This. Articulated trains are not the same thing as open gangways.

JJJ December 2, 2015 - 11:40 am

This is fantastic news for the country. It will prohibit other agencies like WMATA and MBTA from continuing to use the “it wont work because America is special” excuse.

Whoever came up with the idea of American Exceptionalism should have been thrown in jail.

SA December 2, 2015 - 11:40 am

These are used in Toronto too now. I loved riding these trains. They are far more spacious and they allow you to move around if a section is crowded or if you’re on the wrong end of the platform for your exit when you board the train.

AMH December 2, 2015 - 12:07 pm

“Meanwhile, others have complained about disruptive buskers and the odors from homeless subway residents rendering half a train inhospitable rather than just one subway car.”

If that’s your biggest concern, you can be glad that you’ll have an easy escape to the other end of the gangway. As it is now, you’re trapped.

Kai B December 2, 2015 - 5:22 pm

I was living in Vienna when these types of trains were first implemented there and safety was one of the touted benefits. You feel less alone and can easily move to another “car”. In Vienna they only use these trains for their all-night service on the weekends for this reason.

iSkyscraper December 2, 2015 - 12:14 pm

It’s true, these trainsets have done wonders in Toronto and are a real no-brainer…

… except for the homeless issue. In Toronto, there are virtually no homeless on the subways, it’s just not tolerated. But there are homeless on the sidewalks in the most tourist-friendly and high-rent part of town in a way that would never be allowed in NYC. (Honestly, even the most hardened New Yorker would be shocked by the public display of homelessness in T.O.)

I ride the A train daily from its northern terminal, and there are many times when a train pulls in that has more than a dozen homeless sleeping on it. The smell is unreal, but the MTA workers do nothing about it. (You’re lucky if they even bother to sweep out the litter.) People absolutely select cars in order to avoid the worst offenders (smell is not all of it – I have seen my share of fights and curses also from homeless who were disturbed by boarding customers). Open gangway cars would be great, but the MTA would have to follow their own procedures and be far more aggressive in coordinating with homeless outreach services to get encamped people off of the trains and into assistance programs if they truly wanted to get maximum utility from the cars.

Seth December 2, 2015 - 12:23 pm

If increased capacity isn’t enough, open gangway cars would also keep the NYPD from ticketing or harassing riders– especially nonwhite ones– for moving between cars.

AG December 3, 2015 - 1:05 pm

That has nothing to do with race. I’m not white and the fact is that years ago ppl used to go through the the train robbing ppl. The space in between cars was also used as a toilet and as a place for daredevils. That caused deaths and lawsuits. It’s really ridiculous when ppl don’t understand something they blame race for everything. People should go live in Singapore for a while where there is no racial undertones. They just have zero tolerance for anti social behavior.

Bolwerk December 3, 2015 - 1:57 pm

“I’m not white [but something stupid]” should be a wikipedia barnstar.

Authoritarian policing is the most dangerous form of antisocial behavior there is because it’s hardest to, even illegal to, defend yourself against. Singapore is arguably one of the few international first world large cities that is actually more dangerous to its own citizens than New York, and racial disparities in NYC policing are so obvious it’s rather remarkable anyone would even bother to deny them.

AG December 3, 2015 - 2:25 pm

If you think stopping people from doing things that are dangerous is authoritarian – well good thing you don’t run any society. We would have complete anarchy. Well you can call Singapore whatever you like – but by most standards it had some of the highest quality of life in the world. But I would like to you to name me one efficiently run mass transit system in any major city that puts up with the literal and figurative garbage that takes place in NYC…

Also little childish remarks like “but something stupid” only serve to show that you can’t be taken seriously as an adult. It also makes me question the operator of this site who allows some of its users to result to petty name calling. In fact – I see no one else on this forum do so but you. Go find another sandbox to play in if you can’t contain yourself.

BBnet3000 December 3, 2015 - 2:33 pm

You were too preoccupied with manners (do you need to be reminded that the internet is not real life?) to address his content.

Economically successful ss it may be, Singapore is nonetheless relatively authoritarian and not as free of a society as the United States.

Quality of life policing has been uniformly demonstrated to be racially disparate. Are you really saying it isn’t?

AG December 3, 2015 - 5:21 pm

Well sorry – I don’t live in fantasy land. If I wanted childish banter there are many web sites I could waste time with. Excuse me for thinking this was a forum for serious thought.

In any event – not as “free” a society? Hmmmm – so quality of life is less important than “freedom”??? Yup – makes perfect sense why things are the way they are here. In case you didn’t know there are quite a few countries with measurably higher quality of life than this one. Having the biggest and most powerful military doesn’t mean your citizens live the best life. Nor the biggest economy. Quality of life is a set of measures that does not just include economic prowess. Healthy (physical and mental), crime and violence, education, pollution are all included in that basket.

In any event – FACT – Singapore is more efficiently run than NYC. FACT – no major city that has a well run transit system has such disgusting and decrepit conditions as NYC. Not Hong Kong – not Tokyo – not London – not Berlin – not Amsterdam – not Seoul – not Taipei…. Is that the “American exceptionalism” at work again?

As to the original point. Show me where whites are deliberately let to pass through trains and not ticketed where minorities are. I’m “black” and I’ve never been ticketed for passing through the subway trains. Why? I don’t do it. Is there racism in this society? Of course. But stop blaming racism for everything. Or is your argument that people being killed doing stupid things while passing through the train – is not a good enough reason to ban it? Call me when there are no lawsuits against the city or MTA.

Bolwerk December 4, 2015 - 11:50 am

I don’t see why QoL is anywhere near as important as freedom. But, hey, America actually manages worse QoL and less freedom alike over most other first world countries. All while embracing aggressive/unaccountable policing, so I guess it’s you arguing for “American exceptionalism” here.

Of course, I can name a lot of other things they do differently too, with regard to transit, social policy, and policing.

Bolwerk December 4, 2015 - 11:10 am

I can’t think of any major first world city that puts so much effort into protecting its Danny Pantaleos. Maybe Singapore? Now, I know western Europe still uses fines as a remediation strategy for littering and fare evasion, which totally makes sense to me, but they also budget for litter removal, something NYC neglects to do while everyone wonders why there is litter everywhere. They also, in the near complete absence of a “broken windows” policing scheme, have lower levels violent crime than we do. So much for “complete anarchy,” eh? Perhaps if we didn’t burn piles of money on settlements for police brutality every year we could afford litter abatement. Might even have a little left over to pay for most of the annual construction costs of the SAS.

I somehow doubt the victims of Singapore’s bully mentality are that impressed with its quality of life, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of New Yorkers probably feel the same way. But I guess you think we’re “garbage”?

BTW, I didn’t call you stupid. I called your comment stupid. If you are indeed intelligent, it wouldn’t make your comment less stupid. The only discernible ad hominem here came from you: “you can’t be taken seriously as an adult.”

adirondacker12800 December 3, 2015 - 4:07 pm

No racial undertones except for the occasional race riot.

AG December 3, 2015 - 5:24 pm

Hmmm -so are the minorities in Singapore treated more strictly than the 75% who are ethnically Chinese? Are ethnic Chinese allowed to spit gum on the road or litter or scrawl tags on walls or traffic in drugs because they are the majority? The point I was making is there was not the inherent racial subjugation that existed in this country – but no one is allowed to just do as they feel in that society.

adirondacker12800 December 3, 2015 - 7:02 pm

so they were having riots for the fun of it?

AG December 3, 2015 - 7:27 pm

Race Riots can happen for many reasons. France and England had them fairly recently.. They have had 2 riots in Singapore in 40 years. Are you seriously calling that a trend??? I mean that last “riot” they had a couple years ago – we had riots that caused that much damage twice at my high school here in NY – twice in my 4 years there. One didn’t even make the news (as this was pre-Facebook/Twitter etc)…. In any event – stick to the topic at hand. Are the ethnic Chinese allowed to commit quality of life offenses because they are the majority in Singapore? That is the question. If that 75 percent were allowed to do what they wanted at the expense of minorities there – things would look quite different.

adirondacker12800 December 3, 2015 - 8:04 pm

If there are no racial undertones why were they rioting?

al December 2, 2015 - 2:06 pm

This car order is a mixed bag. Replacing the R32 is a must, as they are approaching 55 years in service. Replacing R44 by 2020 is a good idea as they are hybrid LAHT/stainless steel design and would be 45 years old by then.
However, replacing the R46 at 40 sets a bad precedent. They have stainless steel structures and, with another SMS, can run out to 50 years. The MTA Capital plan had stated that they would replace subway cars at 50. As the R62 and R68 reach 40 years in service next decade, replacing them at 40 years would drive $ billions in new MTA debt.

pete December 2, 2015 - 4:34 pm

The MTA burns money replacing buses at the 10-15 year mark. It used to be RTSes reached 20 or 25 years before they were retired. Now the Nova LFSes and Xcelsiors are flooding the city. The MCIs and D60es were particularly prematurely retired.

Subutay Musluoglu December 2, 2015 - 5:02 pm

The R-32 class will be partially replaced with the R-179 class that is currently on order. The remaining cars will be replaced by the R-211 class, which is allocated in the latest Capital Program. The rest of the R-211s will replace all remaining R-44s (Staten Island Railway) and most of the R-46 class. Much of the R-44 class has already been retired, earlier than anticipated because of the discovery of high levels deterioration that was not expected. That is why the R-32s are still around; otherwise they would have been long gone. I agree that the R-46 class should be kept around a little while longer, but it is my understanding that NYCT does not like to do service life extension overhauls, especially these days when they get a reasonably good price on a per car basis when they place large orders for new cars. The last 20 Year Needs Assessment had already stated that the R-62s would be retired in the 2020-2023 Capital Program, though I agree that they should be kept longer if they are in good shape.

lawhawk December 2, 2015 - 2:09 pm

Why does it take a pilot study to figure out if open gangways can work in NYC subways? It works everywhere else in the world, including on systems where they have tight turning radii and have busy systems.

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to create more capacity where capital construction is not possible. And it would buy the system more time until more capacity can be created elsewhere.

The downside is that with reliability issues with some of the new car purchases, it’d probably be best to see which railcar manufacturer can get the job done and provide reliable vehicles.

JJJJ December 2, 2015 - 3:03 pm

If it worked in NYC, it would have already been done.

(corporate inertia’s favorite excuse)

pete December 2, 2015 - 4:38 pm

The city hall station curves on the R train are probably what restricts open gangway. Also NYCT maintains the rails in a very rough shape. No track grinding ever. Minimal if any welding. NYCT removed all tunnel ballast track and replaced it with direct fixation track over the last 30 years. Open gangway cars are more noisy than regular end door cars, and NYCT tunnels are more noisy than most other metros in the world due to NYCT’s decisions about how to maintain their track.

Toddster December 2, 2015 - 6:03 pm

Why are open gangway cars louder?

mister December 3, 2015 - 1:32 am

Actually, there’s a lot of welding happening down there. I can recall walking tracks and seeing the only joints in rails are where IJs are needed. The negative rail had even fewer joints. This is something you can observe for yourself in many stations.

They also use the LORAM grinder, I just don’t know how often.

Nathanael December 3, 2015 - 10:04 am

So use a different car series on the R and use open gangways everywhere else. This isn’t rocket science.

AMH December 3, 2015 - 10:21 am

Actually, there is some gravel ballast on the UWS IRT express tracks. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t more, since I would think it would reduce noise, vibration and wear.

Bolwerk December 3, 2015 - 10:36 am

There is a lot of ballast on the system. It’s not in stations for safety reasons.

Michael December 2, 2015 - 11:52 pm

From a previous message:

“Why does it take a pilot study to figure out if open gangways can work in NYC subways?”

The MTA comes in for criticism all of the time for almost everything!! It does NOT matter. If the project is “done right” or “on budget” the criticism will be that other projects were “done wrongly” or were “over budget”. If other places implement something the criticism is why can it not be done here! If other places do not have something the criticism will be that it should be done here first, or how come “we” did not think of it first. Then there’s the usual criticism that the “brand new idea” needs to be implemented YESTERDAY, because it is only going to take some pocket change and some duct-tape from the local hardware store! Or the usual good for all years, “Everything costs so much!!”

If the MTA were to wholesale purchase these kinds of cars – and there turned out to be problems with the cars – all sorts of media and commentary folk will complain that the cars should have been tested!! Just one example:

Have folks actually forgotten what happened with the first sets of 75-foot subway cars and their problem electrical systems and truss supports, and the complaints that the wheels were falling off the new trains? Or the “death cars” because of the open doorways where riders could fall out of the train when the trains take a curve? Remember the headlines? It was not that long ago! Let the MTA screw up on something – folks will be howling for years on end!!

Even in this message stream, one of the earliest messages someone states that the subway tunnel curves could just easily be “redesigned and re-built” and made “less tight” on a fully operating subway line in “no time”. Really?? !! Gee – as if it is just that easy!!!

Some things are just not that simple!!! It is as if some folks think that, “Yeah, we could just snap your fingers and its done!!!” Or the “I just came up with a new idea yesterday – what do you mean that it has not been implemented yet? !!!

Proposing stuff is easy – implementing it often is not! The Devil is in the details – and there are plenty of details! (And often the details are just the beginning of the issues involved.)

None of this is meant to say that good ideas should not be offered, looked at, examined, proposed or even over time implemented. Or that particular ideas are not worthy of consideration. Notions and aspects of realism have temper the idealism.

Most reputable engineers, seamstress and tailor adhere to the phrase – “measure twice – cut once!”


JEG December 3, 2015 - 9:55 am

What were the alleged safety concerns regarding this train car type?

Anonymous December 3, 2015 - 4:51 pm


Even today, you’ll see some deranged person mumbling to themselves and everyone else standing 5 yards away from them. We shouldn’t have those types of subways because of problems like this (not that we will ever have them in the first place because we’re New York)

AG December 3, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Nah – it’s not the deranged people. What it WAS from when I remember growing up was the marauding gangs that used to go car to car committing robberies – chain snatchings etc. Wasn’t uncommon when I used to ride the train (especially the D on the Concourse where I was up close and personal with it more than once). That doesn’t really exist anymore in any real frequency – so that is no longer an excuse. This is just simply the MTA being slow to adopt things that are common sense.
I think there are some engineering excuses they are using though (safety)… Hopefully this “pilot” would quickly get rid of that. But alas, it’s the MTA.

Astoria rider December 4, 2015 - 9:58 am

Also with terrorism concerns, there is going to be a strong police prescence in subways for years to come.

Bolwerk December 4, 2015 - 11:57 am

For the most part, incidental police are nothing more than potential victims in a terrorist attack.

AG December 4, 2015 - 4:43 pm

True – But did they use terrorism as an excuse? If so – then I can’t see how that would be relevant. Tokyo and Paris certainly still have to face that. Though London certainly has a much stronger network of constantly monitored cameras throughout not just transit – but their overall city. I wouldn’t understand the MTA’s rationale on that one.

s December 5, 2015 - 9:45 am

No chance happening a Open gangway train will be built come to New York city subway. ( it only will be 60 footer type car with 5 car set with same model type with LED STRIP map as R160A.) I would rather see someone urine or take a poop or bowel movement a open gangway train . Why bowel moment …No bathroom opengangway train… Or vandal does exist too

NFA December 5, 2015 - 11:54 pm

Best comment ever

Andres December 7, 2015 - 10:32 am

Prototype cars. I’m sure they’ll give us years of great use. Like the R-110s and the SOAC, the R-11s, the Bluebirds and the Green Hornets.

To paraphrase Yoda: “Build or not build. There is no prototype.”

EJ December 9, 2015 - 1:31 pm

Just a note about the Berlin U-Bahn caption – the name “Großprofil” doesn’t specifically refer to open gangway cars. It just refers to the part of the network that runs “Large Profile,” i.e. wider, cars, as opposed to the “Kleinprofil” (small profile) lines. Similar to the B and A divisions on the NYC subway.


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