YIMBY often champions infrastructure improvements. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently revealed massive design improvements planned for both subway trains and subway cars, we thought this would be a good opportunity for a little time travel.
Almost half of the time you board a C train, you have the chance to travel back to 1964. That’s when the R32 subway cars went into service. They were refurbished in the late 1980s, but one look at the outside of the cars, nicknamed “Brightliners,” and you can tell another era has just arrived. The good news is that they aren’t very long for this world, as they are gradually being replaced by R160A subway cars, which went into service in 2006 and are the entirety of the E train fleet. Further replacements are planned.
Also, since the C train runs entirely underground, and therefore needs more reliable air conditioning, some of the R32s are transferred to the A train during the summer. The J and Z trains also use some R32s, but a great many stations on those lines are above-ground, meaning air conditioning isn’t as big an issue.
The 40-station C line is 19-miles-long, shorter than the 32-mile-long A line, and its actual trains are also shorter. C trains are only 480-feet-long, while the A trains are 600-feet-long. Can C riders expect longer trains? No. An MTA review of the A and C lines released in December concluded that it would cost $100 million to provide longer trains and that, average loads are within NYC Transit’s Rapid Transit Loading Guidelines, and are projected to remain so through 2035.
The average number of weekday trips on the C is 250,000, though the number on the A or C is 800,000, given that there are plenty of points on the line where you could take either. The MTA says the A and C combine for 14 percent of the system’s trips.
If you’re wondering, the C train was not at the bottom in the most recent Straphangers Campaign rankings. It rated a $1.50 on the measure of how much bang you’re getting for your swipe. That’s more than the $1.45 for the 5 and B trains.
There is no date yet for the implementation of the governor’s proposed improvements, which include redesigned platforms, with USB ports and countdown clocks system-wide, and open-gangway subway cars with Wi-Fi, USB ports, and flip seats. In the meantime, hope for the best.
Cities like Paris and Madrid already have reliable countdown clocks and Madrid’s is oh so clean, even in the red light district. New York City is often referred to as the “capital of the world.” It deserves a great, bright, and modern public transportation system that can meet its amazing needs.