NYCT: Farewell, ‘Brightliners’

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
On Jan. 9, 2022, NYCT will run the final train of R-32s, dubbed Brightliners and the last subway car class to offer riders a front window. (Pictured: R-32 on the Williamsburg Bridge, July 1, 2020; Marc A. Hermann / MTA.)

On Jan. 9, 2022, NYCT will run the final train of R-32s, dubbed Brightliners and the last subway car class to offer riders a front window. (Pictured: R-32 on the Williamsburg Bridge, July 1, 2020; Marc A. Hermann / MTA.)

MTA New York City Transit’s Budd-built R-32s—dubbed the Brightliners for their gleaming stainless steel bodies—will retire after 58 years of service.

To commemorate the move, NYCT plans to operate a R-32 train along the F and D lines on Dec. 19 and 26, 2021, and on Jan. 2, 2022. A “final farewell” run will be held on Jan. 9, 2022, along the Q line, the route where the cars debuted on Sept. 14, 1964 (then, the BMT Brighton Line).

The R-32s were the first large fleet of mass-produced stainless-steel cars purchased for New York’s subway, comprising a total of 600 cars. In recent years, they have been serving riders on the A, C, J and Z lines.

Many R-32s—the last subway car class to offer riders a front window—were retired in the 2000s, when the R-160s began entering service. (All 1,662 R-160s, delivered by the joint venture of Alstom and Kawasaki, were in operation by June 2010.) By September 2011, there were only 232 survivors.

“As we continue the work to modernize the transit system and improve the customer experience, it is truly bittersweet to say farewell to a fleet of historic R-32 trains that have served New Yorkers for nearly six decades,” NYCT interim President Craig Cipriano said.

“We are committed to improving the subway system by replacing aging infrastructure with a modern fleet of trains that fit the ever-changing needs of a bustling New York City,” NYCT Senior Vice President for Subways Demetrius Crichlow said. “The retirement of these trains is just one part of that journey, and we hope that New Yorkers take advantage of these final runs of the R-32 before we say goodbye to them early next year.”

NYCT took delivery of the first five of 535 Kawasaki R211 rapid transit cars in July; they are expected to begin revenue service on select letter lines (B Division) in summer 2022.

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