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The MTA is planning to spend nearly $4 billion on new subway cars

The MTA is planning to spend nearly $4 billion on new subway cars
Photograph: Courtesy MTA

New York City’s subway system is not going to get fixed overnight, but the MTA is preparing to take a major, expensive step toward improving service for straphangers. The Times reports that the authority is gearing up to approve a multibillion-dollar purchase of up to 1,612 new subway cars from Japanese company Kawasaki. 

At a meeting of the MTA’s Transit Committee on Monday, officials ironed out key details of the contract, including delivery deadlines for the new cars and pricing. The first phase of the deal would bring 535 new R211 model subway cars come July 2020. Under the current plan, 440 of those would have a conventional closed design, 20 would have a much-anticipated open gangway design and the remaining 75 would be go to the Staten Island Railway. If Kawasaki delivers the cars on time and they meet the MTA’s newly heightened performance standards, the company will be approved to deliver the remaining 1,000-plus cars in two more phases. When it’s all said and done, the whole batch is expected to cost nearly $3.7 billion. 

If that seems like a jaw-dropping price tag to you, it’s because it is. Malfunctioning, outdated trains are a leading cause of delays for the subway system, and investing in more reliable cars is a logical way to fix that issue. The new R211 series will also have more room to help curb overcrowding (another major cause for delays) and the bulk of them will be equipped with communications-based train control, a step toward modernizing the subway’s arcane signaling system.

The contract isn’t yet final—it still requires sign off from the MTA Board, which meets later this month. But if all goes as planned, New Yorkers could finally start seeing some long-term solutions for their subway woes. 

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Ed K

They're just putting lipstick on a pig. Having new train cars won't make a difference if they're running on antiquated systems from the 1930s. The real problem is the MTA itself – a bunch of highly paid bureaucrats who rape us with higher and higher transit fares while providing service that gets worse by the day. And what do those higher fares pay for?  Wildly overinflated costs on capital projects that are built by their friends who are handed no-bid contracts to do the job––a job which may or may not be completed on time or on budget. It's criminal. 

August Y

OPEN GANGWAY ON ALL TRAINS! WTF are they thinking? Also more places to hold onto railings both at waist level and on top of train cars. And get rid of turnstiles for payment like Berlin.. Dont understand why our country is so backward when this was all invented and proven in other countries before we even got here.

Lydia L

How about improving the service on the rotten system?  Every single day it's signal problems, trains with mechanical problems, stalled trains, massive delays - the MTA is a disgrace!  And do something about some of your workers who are lazy, incompetent and overpaid.


What is the purpose of riding the subway in underwear? Dont we see enough disgusting things underground? Isnt this encouraging perverts?