Why the short C?

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Q

Why are the C trains just a little bit shorter than E and A trains, and since they have brand-new E trains, why don’t they turn the old Es into extra Cs?—Star K., Tribeca

A

They run shorter trains because of lower ridership in general on the C than on the lines it shares its route with,” explains David Pirmann of fan site nycsubway.org. That may be true, but most New Yorkers can’t wait to transfer off the usually-packed C train the minute they hop onboard. New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign ranks it the worst subway line—the most predictable complaint: crowding. The C trains consist of only eight cars; that’s two cars shorter than the E and A trains. If you’re sick of rubbing (more than) elbows with fellow commuters on the C train, then look forward to October, when the MTA will start to phase in ten-car trains on the C line. Although the Straphangers survey is known to influence transit improvement, Deirdre Parker, a spokeswoman for the MTA, insists, “This is something that New York City Transit has been thinking about for quite some time.”

Some of the old E trains, each made up of ten R42 cars (the number refers to the contract under which the cars were ordered), still run on the R and V lines, while part of the fleet was retired due to poor performance. The R42 cars are about five years younger than the rickety R32 cars that make up the current C trains. Built in 1964, the R32s are the oldest cars in the subway system. According to the MTA’s schedule the R32s will be begin to be retired in October 2009 and will be phased out by February 2010. When retired, they’ll move from under the sidewalk to underwater in order to create an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean. So be it with New Yorkers or fish, the current C train is destined for crowds.—Sandra Plasse

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