Clean Transport

Published on February 17th, 2016 | by Kyle Park Points


NYC To Test Open Gangway Subway Cars

February 17th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

New York City‘s subway system is set to test a new style of train for action by 2020 according to a New York Times article. In cities such as Paris and Toronto, subway riders are welcome to move between cars during transit without having to pass through doors or exit the car itself, and NYC plans on following the trend – or at least testing the waters. Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has ordered ten ‘open gangway’ style cars that are connected without interruption – flowing cabins without doors or space between cars.

New York MTA Gangway Plan

Rendering of MTA Open Gangway Plan; Source NY Times

As it stands, it is technically illegal to pass between New York City subway cars while the train is in motion and, though this seldom discourages the experienced traveler, is considered dangerous and disruptive. To properly switch cars, one must wait until the train is halted and dart to the next car via the subway platform.

The new style of car will in theory remedy many ailments such as overcrowding and the ‘bump and go traffic’ of people departing and boarding cars. For instance, with all the cars connected, passengers can board the same car and easily disperse along the line. Gone would be the days of everyone trying to pass through the same three doors to exit a crowded cabin or load into the most convenient car. With riders more easily dispersed and more evenly portioned, the trains should run a smoother schedule. The cars will also have an increased capacity.

New York City D Train

Dinosaur Train; source DNAInfo/Michael Ip

Other advances have been mentioned, such as digital screens and charging stations for portable devices. Time will tell whether or not New Yorkers are ready for such nice things. I can already see the shaking iPhone video featuring late night drunkards fist-fighting over whose phone has the least amount of charge.

However, these cars do not come cheap. One ten car train will cost the city $52.4 million so the city will be testing one train to determine if it’s worth the price tag. “These are subway cars that will be running in our system for the next 30 or 40 years, conceivably.” says Kevin Ortiz of the MTA,“We want to take our time and do our due diligence with the design of these cars.”

There are some concerns about how riders will accept the new style. For one, smoke or other unpleasant air-borne contaminate can easily travel through several cars rather than be contained in just one. Another concern raised would be the increased ease of peddlers and vendors to disturb riders.

Those who have raised concern are still in favor of testing the new trains to see how they go over. Along with other progressive ideas, they seem like a logical step in the right direction while creating a more unified transit experience.

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

is a working father in New York City by way of Sarasota, Florida. He is a public transportation enthusiast, clean air advocate, lifetime recycler and frequent panderer. He also reluctantly tended to his family's compost heap for many formative years. He hopes to one day leave his daughter with a safer, healthier environment than when she was born; which shouldn't be hard since she was born in Queens, New York.

  • MuddyWolf

    Conventional NYC subway cars cost about $1.2 million each as of 2008, The open gangway trains are more than four times as much as the current ones. By comparison, $52 million is about the same price as a base model Boeing 737 that seats 215 people. A ten car train seats 420 people but can potentially hold 2000 in tightly packed standing formation. The cost of the new design probably outweighs the benefits. Having more less expensive trains running more often is a better alternative. Also from a security/safety standpoint, I’d rather be in a separate train car if an accident or shooting took place.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Sounds strange when you compare with international prices. Not sure why open designs here should be about 5-7 times cheaper than NYC cars.

  • Freddy D

    $52 million for a 10-car train is expensive? Compared to what? Some data would be helpful. Maybe that’s what rail cars cost. And there will need to be a lot of R&D to make this work well because train cars move side to side and vertically relative to each other so the walls, floor all have to deal with this well, and hopefully keep the whole assambly quiet.

    This could be a good innovation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Three different companies bid for new BART cars in late 2011/2012. All came in around $3 million per car.

      • Freddy D

        Thanks – that’s good data. And the new BART cars are just a box on wheels. The NYC proposal has articulated, insulated, interconnected joints between the cars. Naturally more expensive than a box on wheels. And if they get more people on a train, the system capacity just grew.

    • Jenny Sommer

      It will be more like 5.2m$.
      New trains in Munich were 8.8mio€, new trains in Vienna under 5m€.

      • Freddy D

        Thanks. Per comment above, other cars are typically just a box on wheels – not sure about specifics of Munches or Vienna cars though.

        • Jenny Sommer

          Vienna got all the features you are looking for. Full climate control, open gangway, information system, cameras everywhere, gapless entry in the first 2 cars which take bikes, strollers and wheelchairs (less seats and seats that fold up.)

          Cars are typically designed to minimise gaps and optimize capacity.
          I would still prefer a subway with elevator doors/closed station design. (and those white gloves people from Japan that shove the passengers in)
          Our new line might get that…and it will have driverless/automatic trains.

  • egriff5514

    Had these on the London tube for some while now (Metropolitan Line). Much more room and aircon too…
    But I think commuters will always cluster round the doors!

  • Zooba

    Being from Toronto, I have to say these new subway cars are an improvement. Everything mentioned in this article is pretty much on point; riders distribute themselves more evenly and it’s easier to find a seat.

    The “peddler” issue does exist, but it’s happened only a handful of times to me in the past year so compared to the positives it’s not even worth mentioning.
    I’ve never seen a person smoke on the subway, but that’s probably because it’s a finable offense. Maybe things are different in New York.

  • Peter

    52 million dollars?! How can a train be so ridiculously expensive? For that amount of money you could almost buy enough Model S’s to be able to assign one to each passenger.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Sounds expensive. The new trains in Munich are 8.8million each.

      Do we know which make they will be in NYC?
      Here in Vienna they run Siemens, Bombardier and SGP.
      The new trains will be driverless too.

    • Larmion

      There’s an error in the article methinks. Other sites mention 52 million for the ten initial trains, so 5.2 million per unit. That’s a pretty average pricetag. See for example

      But to come back to that that Model S comparison: that shiny car-thingy would be on the scrapheap when this trainset is barely past its puberty.

      Trains, trams and subway cars are incredibly solid things. Around the world, electric trains over half a century old are in widespread useand there are even some century old ones in commercial service. Surprisingly, they often beat current designs in terms of comfort.

      Cars don’t manage that. They’re too accident prone for that, and neither batteries nor internal combustion engines are designed for much more than a decade of frequent use.

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