NYCT’s aging Brightliners get a new gleam

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Introduced to service 48 years ago, New York City Transit's original fleet of 600 Budd-built R-32 cars—dubbed the Brightliners for their gleaming stainless steel bodies—has dwindled to 232 scarred survivors working on the A and C lines.

Now, they’re moving through the Coney Island Overhaul Facility at a rate of four cars a week getting what NYCT describes as “a limited-scope maintenance makeover intended to improve their performance and reliability until they are replaced by the fleet of 300 new R179 cars, due to begin arriving in 2014.” The work will cost around $25 million.

The Brightliners were the first large order of stainless steel, corrosion resistant cars purchased for New York’s subway.

The makeover includes upgrades to several major car components and systems including air brakes, auxiliary electric, car body, couplers, car body hoses, door systems, propulsion systems, some HVAC work, and trucks.