It's official: the MTA has placed an order for 640 open gangway subway cars, which are popular in cities like Toronto where bodies have no odors. Linked together, the cars form one long, open subway train, allowing for up to 10 percent more space for passengers per train. They also come with wider doors that cut down on train loading and unloading time. And with no doors separating one subway car from the next, the air and everything that floats upon it is unified into one perfectly confined space from which there is no escape.
The so-called "human centipede" subway cars are expected to arrive in 2023. In the meantime, the MTA has also put in an order for 300 modern R179 subway cars, which will replace the oldest subway cars you still see trundling along the J, Z, and C lines. AMNewYork reports that 70 of them will go into service this year, with the remaining 230 replacing the older cars in 2018.
But while you'll be seeing more R179s on the tracks soon, the MTA sees the open gangway subway cars as the future. "The feedback we have received is that manufacturers can produce open gangway cars for the New York system and rise to the challenge of addressing unique features of New York City Transit’s 100-year-old infrastructure,” MTA executive Steve Plochochi said at an MTA board meeting yesterday.
While the MTA promises that the open gangway subway cars will improve service, commuters will need to adapt to a noxious new world in which they can no longer flee malodor from one subway car to the next. "God bless the New Yorkers, that theory [of avoiding the empty car] is not going to last," a prominent smell expert named Tracy Pepe told us last year. "We have that problem [of smells permeating open cars] in Toronto. I don’t think they’ve figured out that design flaw."
"Your subways are quite dirty from an odor perspective," Pepe helpfully added. Read our whole interview here in full Smell-O-Vision to catch a whiff of The Future.