The MTA released a sneak peek Wednesday of the new "open gangway"-style cars that might eventually spread throughout the subway system.
The new cars will feature accordion-like connectors instead of interior doors that allow for free movement between cars to tackle crowding and passenger loads issues.
The new blue-and-gold cars will also have wider doors - eight inches wider than the current MTA standard of 50 inches. The wider doors could help to reduce delays, since passengers should be able to enter and exit more quickly: "According to computer simulations of customer flow, wider doors can reduce the time a train is stopped in a station during crowded scenarios by as much as 32 percent," the MTA said in a release.
Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. won the $1.4 billion contract award in 2018 to deliver 535 cars. The new R211 cars are in production and will be delivered sometime in 2021, though 20 of the cars will be delivered for testing later this year.
The first batch will go to the lettered lines and the Staten Island Railway, but it's possible that eventually all the cars in the subway system will have the open gangway if testing goes well. The MTA will have to decide before 2022 if it will order more open gangway cars or stick with the traditional closed-end cars in the Kawasaki order.
“We are very excited about these latest developments in our R211 car production because these new cars represent the future of the New York subway and will be the new standard for all new NYC Transit subway cars going forward,” said Frank Jezycki, NYC Transit’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Subways, in a release.
The new R211 cars will also include "real-time, location-specific information about service and stations, new grab rails including double-poles, and brighter and clearer lighting, signage, and safety graphics," the MTA said.
But at an MTA board meeting on Tuesday, board member Sarah Feinberg said the board is postponing a vote on the RFP for up to 1,500 additional open gangway cars, in order to further consider their necessity.
The new cars are part of the MTA's $51.5 billion capital plan to modernize and update the subway system -- the open gangway cars are also used in other international cities such as Berlin, Montreal and Hong Kong.
Some New Yorkers, of course, have already published their preliminary reviews of the new trains on Twitter:
Earlier this year, the MTA yanked 298 of its newest Bombardier-made R179 subway cars out of service due to a problem with the doors on two trains. After weeks of repairs on the fleet, the R179s are expected to come back this week with updated software and third party inspections, according to WNYC transit reporter Stephen Nessen.