MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) on Feb. 3 showcased one of the two R211 open gangway subway cars that are currently undergoing testing at the Coney Island Yard in Brooklyn.
The open-gangway cars, which are part of a 535-car, $1.4 billion order placed in 2018 of the R211 model, are expected to be placed into revenue service in the fourth quarter of 2023 to “determine potential future NYCT fleet purchases for open gangways,” according to the MTA. The 535-car order includes 20 cars with the open gangway feature, an additional 515 cars with “standard futuristic amenities” and 15 Staten Island Railway five-car trains.
These R211 cars, MTA says, are a critical part of the agency’s modernization efforts and will be phased into service beginning on the A and C lines. The R211s feature 58-inch-wide door openings that are eight inches wider than standard door openings on existing cars. The wider doorways, MTA says, are designed to “speed up boarding and reduce the amount of time trains sit in stations.” While very similar to the standard R211 cars, the open-gangway cars are connected by a flexible bellows without doors, and thus allow riders to move freely between them. While it is possible for riders to move between cars on the open platforms on traditional vehicles, it is prohibited because it is unsafe.
According to the MTA, both new subway car models include security cameras, additional accessible seating, digital displays that will provide more detailed station-specific information, and brighter lighting and signage, among other features that improve the customer experience.
In October 2022, the MTA Board’s NYCT Committee approved exercising an option with Kawasaki for an additional 640 R211 subway cars, 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 says, there is a second option for an additional 437 cars that could feature open gangways.
“Putting these cars into service will be a huge milestone in the MTA’s efforts to modernize our fleet,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “These modern subway cars will, of course, upgrade the passenger experience, but they will also complement our signal improvement efforts (transition to CBTC) and allow us to run more trains and provide more frequent subway service.”
“The R211 represents another prime example of the successful collaboration between the MTA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to deliver for New Yorkers,” added FTA Regional Administrator Stephen Goodman. “This is a critical project, it’s a game changer, and we’re proud to be partners with the MTA in the delivery of these new cars, which will improve the customer experience.”