By Bill Parry
Riders of the beleaguered No. 7 subway line have been dreaming of open-gangway subway cars for years as an answer to the chronic over-crowding on their trains. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he has a plan that will bring 1,025 new subway cars, including 750 “Open Car End” designed cars, to the MTA, hope ran high on social media.
But the new cars, which are designed to increase capacity, will not roll on the No. 7 subway line because they wouldn’t fit and the line recently received new cars, according to the MTA. The open-gangway cars won’t run on any numbered lines but only on the lettered lines, according to the MTA.
“That’s a shame, because they are really wonderful,” 7 Train Blues founder Melissa Orlando said.
The open-gangway subway cars have a new design that replaces the door between cars with an accordian-like connector that eliminates separation between cars and increases capacity by as much as 10 percent. It creates longer, open spaces, allowing for greater passenger flow, and they are growing more popular in London, Paris and Toronto.
“I’m really happy for New York City Transit that they are getting these wonderful new cars but it’s disappointing to know we won’t be getting them,” 7 Train Blues Founder Melissa Orlando said. “Even when the new CBTC signal system is up and running in 2017 and we will have two extra trains each hour, we still won’t have enough capacity for the growing population explosion in western Queens where all of our lines are pushed to the limit.”
The new cars and major station renovations were announced as part of the MTA’s $27 billion, five-year capital plan.
“New York deserves a world-class transportation network, worthy of its role as the heartbeat of the 21st century economy,” Cuomo said. “The MTA design team developed a bold and visionary reimagining of the quintessential commuter experience, incorporating best practices from global transit systems, and focusing on our core mission to renew, enhance and expand.”
The new cars will also feature much wider doors to reduce delays by allowing passengers to enter and exit more quickly, a host of new amenities including WiFi, USB chargers and customer information displays and security cameras to promote passenger safety. The exterior will include a new blue front with large windows, LED headlights, and a blue stripe with gold accents along the sides.
“The governor gave the MTA a mandate to implement new, world-class designs as quickly as possible for all new subway cars and that’s what you’re seeing today — innovation making the lives and commutes of all New Yorkers easier,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said.”
The initiative includes a new and improved design standard for subway stations. Extensive renovations are planned for 31 stations across the five boroughs, but it is not clear which stations in Queens will be selected or when any projects would begin. .
“We are going to do more than renovate, we are bringing subway stations to a higher standard than ever before,” Cuomo said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr