You probably remember the Saw movies, the 2000s horror franchise with a primary villain called Jigsaw. The evil torturer was known for designing a set of Rube Goldberg–esque contraptions to inflict serious (and seriously inventive) pain upon his victims. After a few quiet years, the series is back in theaters this Halloween, but I’m convinced Jigsaw’s been active during his off time, right here in New York City.
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Exhibit A: The R46 subway train model. You will know this particular design if you take the A, R, F or S among others. And if you stand any taller than an underdeveloped toddler, you will know which part of this train is the work of someone truly cruel: the dreaded L seats.
As you walk through the door of an R46 car, you’ll see three seats lined up along the side of the train that are perpindicular to two seats jutting out into the center. It all seems innocuous enough, until you plonk yourself down at the inviting-looking window seat—the corner of this L from hell—and the MTA’s sadism reveals itself. You see, there is but a few inches between the end of the chair you’re on and the side of the chair in front of you; certainly not enough inches for, say, the knees and legs you have to fit there. And so the pain begins.
What mad genius designed this crammed little cranny? It turns out the design for the R46 was taken from the R44, manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company in the early 1970s (which rules out Jigsaw, unless he was playing the long game).
The business folded just two years after it delivered its last set of cars for the subway and Staten Island Railway. I’d dance merrily on its grave, but I can’t move right now: I’m writing this on an F.