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MTA releases rendering of proposed "open gangway" subway car

MTA releases rendering of proposed "open gangway" subway car
Photograph: Courtesy MTA

If you've ever ridden the MTA's "Nostalgia Train" during the holidays (something admittedly hard to do since they run only on Sundays in December and are a catch-as-catch-can proposition), you may have noticed cars with covered passages allowing you to move freely from one part of the train to the next. These are known as open gangways, and were a common sight for much of the 20th century. But like many aspects of New York City life, the open gangway disappeared down the memory hole. Today, we have sliding doors that are usually locked or plastered with stickers discouraging their use, or both.

Meanwhile, subway ridership has skyrocketed, leading the MTA to consider re-introducing the open gangway concept for future orders of rolling stock (MTA parlance for subway cars). It turns out that such a design tweak would increase capacity for each train by eight to 10 percent. That's a significant addition. Newly released renderings show cars telescoping one into the next in a seemingly endless tunnel. 

These renderings, however, aren't themselves new, exactly; they've been kicking around since 2013. More to the point, while the MTA seems to be including the open gangway concept in their 2015-2019 Capital Plan, it will only include ten such such cars out of a future order of 950—the idea being to see if New Yorkers cotton to the idea before proceeding further. If the notion proves to be popular, the MTA could conceivable retro-fit existing cars, or make their new-car orders for the 2020s all open gangway. Even if the MTA proceeded full-speed ahead, though, open gangways wouldn't be a system-wide feature for another half-century. 

As a rule, the MTA is glacially slow when it comes to implementing change. (Just look how long they've dithered on replacing the current MetroCard with something that eliminates the hated swipe.) So don't count on being able to breeze between cars anytime soon.



Joe R M

London Underground circle line has these, but they only have 1 operator on board. No conductor. (drivers have a group of screens to see if anyone is stuck in the doors.)

The BART in San Francisco is also thinking of doing this.

Ash P

Shanghai/ Hong Kong have an amazing transit system - open gangway compartments and a cover for the platforms preventing people from getting on the tracks, getting hurt by trains and throwing trash. All stations have indicators to tell when the next 2 trains are going to arrive. Great signs on where the trains are going and how to transfer. No conductors! (Why is a conductor needed on the trains). And swipe less transit cards, which replace cash in taxis and shops as well.

MTA bureaucracy is hurting NY everyday.

Joe R M

Saying 'no more conductors' will probably lead to a union strike around here!

paul p

Not good when there is a BAD CASE OF STINKY HOMELESS DUDE or something else DISGUSTING!!! If they have improved airflow ok otherwise we have to switch entirely TRAINS!


These trains have been running in Europe for a long time, even in Eastern Europe. Welcome to the past, MTA!

B.C. A

Will this make us safer because we're not trapped in a car (some end doors don't open) with a crazy person or make it impossible to get away from the smell or problem, should there be one...?

Luc F

I rode open gangway subway cars in Rome....that should eliminate the crazies who insist on standing in between cars.