First Look: R211s Roll Into New York Subway ServiceWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is phasing in new standard closed-end R211s from Kawasaki along New York City Transit’s (NYCT) A Line.
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber and NYCT President Richard Davey on March 10 participated in the inaugural ride.
The cars are part of a 2018 order for 535 R211a model cars, which included 440 standard closed-end cars, 20 open-gangway cars, and 15 five-car trains for MTA Staten Island Railway. (NYCT on Feb. 3 showcased one of the two open-gangway cars undergoing testing at the Coney Island Yard in Brooklyn.)
Designed to speed boarding and to reduce the amount of time trains remain at stations, the R211s feature 58-inch-wide door openings, which are eight inches wider than those of existing cars, according to MTA. The agency said these models also include security cameras, additional accessible seating, digital displays providing more detailed station-specific information, and brighter lighting and signage, among other features intended to improve the rider experience.
“The new cars are going to give our riders a more modern passenger experience, so riding the subway no longer feels like a step into the past,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “We’re investing over $6 billion in new train cars as part of the historic $55 billion MTA Capital Program and it’s not just for aesthetics, because these new train cars enable us to run more frequent service.”
“Wider doors and additional accessible seating will drastically improve the experience for all riders and particularly those with disabilities,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said. “Future open-gangway pilot cars will also allow customers with mobility devices or strollers the ability to move through a train like never before, and I’m excited to try out these new cars.”
In related developments, in October 2022 the MTA Board’s NYCT Committee approved exercising an option with Kawasaki for an additional 640 R211s, bringing the total number of new subway cars to 1,175 within the next two years. This second set of new subway cars is expected to be delivered in early 2025. If testing is successful, MTA said, there is a second option for an additional 437 cars that could feature open gangways.
Also, WMATA is considering an open-gangway design for its 8000 series rapid transit cars from Hitachi Rail, which will be assembled at a new 307,000-square-foot Maryland plant starting next year.