Test version with "SLRM" bullet font embedded
While this is not an exhaustive record of where every type of car has ever run; it is a general history of where car types have been assigned. It is easily broken down, as cars are generally assigned in groups according to the yards lines share. This was easily noticeable even to a child, as I remember growing up, that my "home" Brighton line generally had R-32's and 42's; and 30's on the local lines, the E and F would find these slant end cars, and the newest cars coming in generally went to what you could call the "superstar" lines: the busy and popular A, D, E and F.
Since the yards are the determining factor in car assignments, a key to understanding car assignments is to break the system down by its yards. There are basically five main yards for the lettered lines. The IND consisted of the 3 main yards: 207th, (A, B - Washington Heights line), Concourse yard, (C, D - Concourse line), and Jamaica yard (E, F, G - Queens Blvd line). All three of these were on the north ends of the lines, so the IND was a "north-oriented" system. The Pitkin yard at the south end of the Fulton St. line in Brooklyn was basically a satellite yard, storing and inspecting cars from both the A, and whatever other line that ran there (the E, and later the C).
The BMT consisted of the huge Coney Island yard in its "southern" section (N, Q, R, original T or later W; making that a "south-oriented" system), and East New York yard smack in the middle of its "eastern" section (J, L, M). Canarsie yard and the small Fresh Pond Yard are only satellites of ENY, with no maintenance facilities of their own, though Canarsie has the east's car wash. (And a small facility was later added at Fresh Pond, see below).
The IRT basically has a yard at the end of most branches: the 1 (240th St.) the 4 (Jerome), the 2 and 5 (E. 238th St and E 180th St), the 6 (Westchester), the 7 (Corona), making that also a north-oriented system. The Livonia yard in Brooklyn which basically handles the southern ends of all the lines that run to Brooklyn. The small 148th St. Lenox yard 3 was once a major facility, but is now a satellite for Livonia. The 2 and 3's southern terminals in Booklyn were swapped in 1983 in the first place because 148th was not big enough to serve as the 3's primary yard, and the Nostrand Avenue line to the Flatbush Av. terminal of course, had no yard.
Overview of separate company history
Originally, what makes up the present subway system was divided into three separate companies.
The IRT consisted entirely of smaller capacity lines that could only handle 51 foot long, 9 foot wide cars. They had a pretty standardized fleet, of a variety of car types (Gibbs, Composites, etc), with the backbone of the fleet being the "Low V". These were all patterned after the old elevated car designs with the same number of bulkhead partitions and windows. Eventually, the cars known as the "redbirds" came in, and provided all service for decades. Since different car types were mixed all over the system, it is easy to give a quick rundown of the IRT. The 7, of course, had the R-12/14's and R-15's (distinguished by the single window sashes that slide down outside the car) first, until the World's Fair cars (R-36) replaced them in 1963. Then, the West side (7th Av.) seemed to have a greater presence of R-12/14, and R-21/22 (the standard car with the square double hung windows on the storm doors), and the East side (Lexington) had a greater presence of R-15's (with the unique double portal side doors), the R-17's (the car that set the "redbird" standard, but with the round storm door window). The Grand Central Shuttle also usually had 17's. R26-33 (in married pairs, and with the larger, unopenable windows on the storm door, the final "redbirds" retired along with the 36's, at the beginning of the new millennium) were generally found on the 1, 2 and 6. Cars were also divided according to GE or Westinghouse components. When the new generation of cars began arriving in 1983, the R-62 went exclusively to the 4, and the R-62A went to the 1, and when that was full, the older cars of that order were pushed to the 6 and 3. The other lines got the rebuilt R26-36, now painted in the familiar "fox red" they bore until the end.
The 7 had the 36's (the division's newest cars) of course, and along with the R-33WF (World's Fair) single cars used to make 11 car trains for the line, these distinguished by their "European style picture windows" similar to the R-32 and 38. There were also "R36 mainline cars" which used the old double hung windows, to match the rest of the "mainline" IRT cars. After rebuilding, these also ran on the 7, at times, but then would move back to the mainline.
The 2 had all R26-28 (7750-7900's), and the higher numbered R-29's (86-8800's). These received the most extensive rebuild from Morrison-Knudsen, with a very shiny paint job. Occasionally, 33's would appear, including one set that was painted green (like the 10's).
The 5 had R-33's (8800s and up). These later on received a more moderate inhouse rebuilding.
The 6 was half 29's (lower numbers, 8500's-8600's) along with the lowest 62A's.
The 4 also had a few 33's, usually the highest numbered (9200's)
A bunch of 36's (the mainlines, and several sets of WF's) would float around the mainline; most of them stayed on the 6 and would also wind up usually on the 2 and 5. Occasionally on the 4. Once, on the 1.
When the last of the 17's were gone, the Grand Central Shuttle, would end up sharing 3 or 4 line equipment (62/62A), back and forth, until the present. Assignments were marked by colored stickers placed under the number boards. 1 red, 2 green, 3 blue, 4 orange, 5 silver or later gray, 6 yellow, 7 purple. (some of these seem loosely based on the lines' old 1967 map colors).
This remained fairly steady, until the latter years, when the 2 and 5 would swap fleet, and events like the institution of OPTO service, 9-11, and finally, the new generation of cars would shift things around.
The next and final batch of cars saw R142A's go to the 6, and R142s to the 2 and 5. As more cars came in, the redbirds began to be retired, and "reefed" off of the coast of several states. The 62A's were pushed over to the 7, and as the 4 also got a mix of the final batch of both new car types, the 62's were pushed to the 3. Some 62's and 62A's continue to fill in on the 4.This is the current assignment, for the foreseeable future. The IRT has finally, after being neglected for so many years in the 70's, been completely modernized in its fleet.
The BMT and IND, which had a more compatible larger sized fleet, and together, comprise a much more vast system, has a rich fleet history. The BMT, which like the IRT, goes back to turn-of-the-century elevated railways, began upgrading its lines in the 1910's. The standard fleet was the 67 foot "BMT Standard" (or "A/B type"). There were also other cars, which generally were assigned to certain sections.
One rift in the system was created, when the popular Coney Island based lines (known as the "southern division") received brand new subways and elevated structures (and a new subway connection to the old Brighton open cut line), while the East New York based "eastern division" got mostly upgrades to existing elevated lines. This created restrictions in the fleets that could run there, that last to the present, with that section becoming almost as separate as the IRT, from the rest of the BMT and IND. While the IRT City Hall line of 1904 is regarded as the beginning of New York's subway system, the oldest transit line running is actually a portion of the J line in Brooklyn dating from the 1880's, with the old "el" structure only having been modified for subway cars in the 1910's. This is another key to understanding some aspects of the car assignments.
So the other main steel car, the articulated "D Types", were generally kept off of the Eastern Division because of their weight. They would run there only for special occasions, like fan trips, and some midday West End local layups to ENY yard (the older section of the line was past the yard).
Meanwhile, the East had another car, the "C Type", which was remanufactured from old el cars, and was thus lighter. Also were a group of lightweight articulated "multisectionals" (including the well known experimental "Bluebird" and stainless steel "Zephyr" models), and the aluminum "Green Hornet"; which could run on both unimproved els (which could not handle steel subway cars) and subways (From which wooden el cars were banned after a crash of one in the Malbone St. tunnel on what is now the Franklin Ave. shuttle).
The IND, which consisted of the present lines A through G, had a completely standardized fleet of R-1's, the famous car associated with Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train", and other models up to R9, which were nearly identical. (They were also fairly similar to the old BMT subway cars, all having the bare incandescent lights and ceiling fans, straw seats, and the old gears that moaned when accelerating). However, the first difference came when the A received a new type of car, the R-10, which featured fluorescent lighting, smaller encased fans, and the same single sash windows the 12 and 14 on the IRT would receive. It featured a whole new propulsion andbraking system called "SMEE" that would become the standard until new technology would be introduced in the 70's; (and what that first new tech would fail, SMEE would be returned on new cars for a whole decade).
In 1940, all three companies were consolidated under the city Board of Transportation, followed by the New York City Transit Authority in 1953. Shortly afterwards, the merging of the BMT and IND would begin. The first connection was the IND D's extension to Coney Island over the BMT Culver line in 1954. The following year, the BMT Broadway line was connected to the IND Queens line. However, these did not result in any significant fleet changes, as the lines were extended using the same equipment they had been using already. (some R-10's, which had been borrowed by the BMT for eastern service, were now returned to the IND, and R1-9's were at times sent to the BMT south to fill in shortages). The two divisions basically continued to operate as separate systems. So basically, you had three systems, eventually reorganized into two "divisions" "A Division" for IRT, and "B Division" for the combined BMT and IND) that ran different equipment from each other, but within each system, you basically had a near equal fleet among all the lines.
The slight differences within the systems would begin to grow as the new Transit Authority would begin ordering new cars for its consolidated system. 1955 saw the introduction of the BMT's first full R-Type fleet, the R-16, which was the basic standard setter like the R-17 on the IRT. These ran in the east, mostly on the Jamaica ("J") line. (They were often mixed with the R11, an experimental stainless steel fleet of 10 cars; the BMT's only other R types at the time, except for some borrowed R-10's on occasions). Next, the R-27/30 went to the south, followed by the stainless steel R-32. These new cars would generally go to the "expresses via bridge" first, eliminating the old BMT cars. When the 32's were in, they were on the expresses, with the 27/30's pushed to the locals. The IND then received the R-38 and the slant ended R-40 (both to the Queens line expresses).
It was at this point that the final merger between the BMT and IND occurred: The Chrystie Street connection joining the IND 6th Avenue line with the BMT's Manhattan Bridge to it's "south" section, and the Williamsburg Bridge to its "east" section.
Now, several lines shifted around, and car assignments were greatly affected. The D was moved from the Culver line to the Brighton, and replaced by the F. The B was also extended via the West End line. The old BMT #14 or "Broadway(Bklyn) Short Line" was moved to 6th Avenue and became the KK. The east and south always had separate services to Nassau St. (with the exceptions of the West End layups), but these were joined in the QJ, which was a combination of the Brighton local and Jamaica express. (Later to be replaced by the M. There was also a short lived "RJ" which joined the 4th Ave.-Nassau special with the Jamaica local). And a new "EE" used the Broadway-Queens connection. (All three lines got the old R-1/9's, at first).
Where the Culver line always had its own section of the huge Coney Island Yard complex, and its own pocket in the Stillwell Avenue terminal, the IND lines that ran there did not mingle with the BMT lines. So the F would retain its IND character, fleet-wise (though borrowing 32's from time to time). However, the D, moved to the Brighton, basically became a half-BMT line, and immediately took on the BMT's R-32's. The B did too, with both lines being a mix of IND R1-9's and BMT R-32's (with some other cars like the R-30's appearing occasionally, and other IND cars still even more rarely). The AA and BB since the opening of the 6th Avenue line in 1940 had always been basically the same line; moving to 6th avenue in rush hours, and then moving to 8th Av. other times. However, the fleets were all R1-9's at the time, so it didn't matter. Now, the AA and B would continue to operate like that, but based out of Coney Island instead of 207th, (or Concourse, which they may have also used at times) and the AA shared the "BMT south/IND" mixed fleet with the B, unlike the other 8th Avenue lines which remained strictly IND in character.
New cars continued to come in, with a modified-ended version of the R-40 going to the IND Queens (Jamaica yard). Next was the similar R-42 fleet. Since this was the first whole fleet to be air conditioned, instead of assigning them all to one yard, they were spread to all yards with a few assigned to every line.
By this time, the entire B division was basically a mishmosh of various fleets of cars, but some
basic characteristics of different sections began surfacing. The last of the BMT pre-war cars were
retired, and the remaining IND prewar cars went to the less popular local lines across the system,
with many filling the BMT east. R-30's also eventually spread to the BMT east, as well as remaining
in the south, and basically became the fleet of the BMT locals, while R-32's remained the fleet of
the BMT south expresses, including the ones that became IND lines in Manhattan. As was stated in the
beginning, the new cars, beginning with the R44 went to the "showcase" lines, such as the A, D and F.
With all new cars being air conditioned, the R-42's were no longer needed on all lines, and began to
be grouped together, eventually becoming a mostly BMT car (including the BMT-IND merger lines) based out of Coney Island
and East New York. The slant 40's remained a mainstay on the E and F.
This basically was the fleet pattern I noticed as I grew up and developed my interest in the subways. Clearly, the different sections of the BMT/IND had their own "flavor" by now, and I would never think of a D or an A or an R train the same way. They all looked and felt so different.
Following the 44's, the R46 came in right after, and went primarily to Jamaica yard, where many have remained to the present. They usually ran on the star expresses, the E and F. This displaced the modified R-40's to mostly the D line, the slant R-40's went to the A, and the 38's went to the AA and B.
A Nov. 1977 car assignment lists:
RT A 210 R-40 104 R-44
RTS AA/B 168 R-38 88 R-42
RT CC 272 R-10
RT D 180 R-40M/42 112 R-44
RT E 60 R-32 152 R-46
RT F 50 R-32 264 R-46
RT GG 96 R-32
RT J 114 R-27/30 32 R-42
RT LL 112 R-27/30 24 R-42
RTS M/QB 184 R-27/30 24 R-42
RT N 90 R-32 200 R-46
RT RR 216 R-32 64 R-42
FRKLN 12 R-27/30
We see a pattern here where Queens was always getting most of the new equipment. Meanwhile, this retired the last R1-9's, and thus the last of the first generation cars. The N had by now replaced the EE on the Queens line, and was based out of Jamaica.
This set the stage for the subway as I found it when I began riding on my own everyday. This was the final fleet assignment pattern before the major new car and General Overhaul (GOH) pattern that brought the fleet up toward more recent patterns. You might notice that the R16's are missing. The arrival of most of the R46's allowed the 16's to be sidelined, but they would be brought back as we shall see next. (The R-16's previously at times had been moved to the IND GG or EE lines to fill in car shortages, but they always eventually returned to the BMT east).
So when I entered high school in 1980, and began riding the subway daily from Newkirk to Brighton Beach, and would also begin exploring other parts of the city on my own, my interest in the subway, really kicked off, as now I could go anywhere and observe the whole system for myself. At this time, a modified version of the 1977 pattern was still in effect. Basically, the D was R44's and 42/modified 40 combinations. Even the long-standing 32's were rare at this point. They filled the N, though (which seemed to have nothing else, and the 46's were having problems, as we will see next). The M, QB and RR were 27/30's and 42's. (an occasional 40m pair or two would be mixed in at times). The Franklin Shuttle was 27/30's. The A was 44's and slant 40's. The AA/B seemed to be mostly 42's, and this was probably where the 38's still were, (They resembled the R-32's; especially the higher numbered cars of that class, with the dimmer indirect lighting, and on the outside at first glance resembled the 42's because the fluting only goes half way up the side, unlike the 32's; so I did not recognize them as a separate car at the time). But the following year, slants spread over from the A. The E and F were entirely 46's. The CC was entirely R-10's. The GG was half R-32's and half 10's. Jamaica, which once had perhaps the widest variety of car types, was now down to only 46's, 32's, and the 10's used on the G, and eventually the 10's would be replaced by additional 32's, with the yard consisting of only 46's and 32's down into the new millennium. (Should be noted that Jamaica seemed to have only the first 450 R32-s, which had the brighter, direct lighting like the older cars, while the other yards had both those and the higher 150, which were known as 32a, and had the indirect side lighting like the 38's).
Apparently, I had just missed a slew of fleet changes I would have never imagined, with R-10's on the D, 46's on the C, and other things I had never seen before. Problems developed on the R-44's, causing them to be pulled from service. A defect in the trucks of the R46's also caused them to be pulled from service, but then they began taking trucks off of the 44's to use for the 46's. It was at this point, that the 16's were returned to service; on the J, where they pretty much stayed for their remaining several years, and making appearances on other ENY-based lines at times. So many wild shifts had occurred in the summer of 1980. I do remember at one point seeing R32's on the F, but afterward, the 46's were back. Also, homeowners along the Brighton line began complaining of noise from the heavier R44's, and after a derailment on the line in early 1981, the cars were pulled from the D for good. This left the D reverting to mostly R-32's and 40 modified/42 combinations, and the line now did not differ much from the BMT locals such as the M and RR, which also got more R-32's, though many do not remember them ever being on the M. The B became the same thing, with the addition of the 38's and slant R-40's. The primary difference again, was that the locals had a much greater presence of R27/30's, and even these would continue to make appearances on the B and D. R-38's then appeared all over the BMT south as well, being based mainly on the D, but also continued to run on the B, and even spread to the QB, RR and M, though like the 32's, people do not believe they ran there. (It was there, on the Brighton local tracks, that I began noticing this car that looked like a combination between the 32 and the 42, and finally caught one, and saw from the inside that it was clearly a distinct car model). Then in early 1982, they suddenly disappeared from the whole area. I found them that May on the A, where they would remain to the end. The 44's had even disappeared from that line for a couple of years, leaving it with slants and now the 38's. The 44's would return the following year, with a new propulsion and braking system, and remain exclusively on that line (plus eventually, the Rockaway Shuttle) to the end.
At this point, there still was more of a unity between the BMT South and East. The M, QB and RR shared equipment, and with the exception of the 16's the J and L were not that much different. And as stated, the D also now used the same basic equipment, and the N remained with its R-32's. The difference between the east and south was primarily the 16's on one side, and the 32's and slants on the other.
The BMT had shorter platforms than the IND, so the BMT used at the most 8 60 foot cars in a train, while the IND used 10. Anticipating the extension of IND service to meet the higher demands for Brighton express service, the Brighton line's platforms were lengthened years in advance. But it took time for the other lines to be lengthened. Even the new B on the West End continued to use shorter trains. So as was stated, the BMT south and east were still pretty similar and for the most part equal. This would begin to change, with both the new cars coming in, plus the continued expansion of BMT platforms in the south, but never in the east. While it would take time for the new cars, 75 feet in length, to spread beyond the IND expresses to the BMT, they would never be able to run in the BMT east, because of sharp curves on the modified els. (One exception was a Bicentennial fantrip using the 46's to Canarsie and Metropolitan. The stretch was pretty much straight, but traffic going in the other direction had to be stopped on the curved approaches to the bridge, and at the tight grade crossing leading to the Myrtle line. 44's and 46's were also reportedly brought to ENY yard at times for some maintenance work, that for some reason was not done elsewhere. They were also supposedly brought to the yard to test for possible L service during the truck fiasco when they were moved everywhere, off of the busy Queens lines, but they apparently did not pass one underground curve, which was the line's primary obstruction).
Obstructions in the south had been removed, and they were not as great as the ones on the old els. So while R-46's ran on the N in the 70's when it first ran to Queens, it was in 1982 when a few returned there for good, and no longer ran exclusively on the E and F. Meanwhile, as the 44's returned to the A, the slants began to disappear, and beginning around 1983 spread from the B to practically the rest of the south. The new batch of cars were also shortly to come. But before we get into that, we must cover the next significant route change.
Rare R46 venture onto the BMT Eastern Div. tracks on 7-4-76 fan trip. Here pictured leaving Fresh Pond Rd. towards Metropolitan Avenue. The cars would not otherwise run in this section because of some of its curves
Manhattan Bridge problems began erupting in 1982, and would result, basically in a "reversal of Chrystie Street", with the Brighton and West End lines returning to Broadway, and the 6th Avenue expresses cut off in Manhattan, usually at 34th St. (Both halves of the line would still retain the "B" and "D" designations, however). The diversions started out lasting for days, then spread to weekends, and then weeks, and then months. In April, 1986, one of these months-long diversions ended up extended to 2½ years. This greatly affected the car assignments, with the BMT and IND halves of the lines being severed semi-permanently.
After adjustments, Concourse basically consisted of R-42's, shared between the AA (which became the new "K"), B and D. Three sets of 32's remained up there also for some reason. The rest of the 32's were in Coney Island and Queens. The slants now became a strictly BMT car, all based in Coney Island, and running on all of its lines: including the D/Q, and even the R! The 27/30's remained in the BMT east and south, and some of the east's cars were used on the resulting 6th Avenue shuttle that ran from Grand St to 57th. The rest of the 42's and the 40 modifieds were now in East New York. Some of the 30's also received the "redbird" painting that the IRT cars got, and some even got a moderate rebuilding, though not as extensive as the IRT cars, and with no air conditioning. They were soon to be replaced anyway.
The R-68's began arriving at this same time, and went to the Coney Island D ("DK") first. The following year, the N and R switched northern ends, with the N becoming a Coney Island based line again, and the R becoming Jamaica based. So the R for the first time got R-46's (some still ran on the N for a short time afterwards), and still had 32's, but the slants were gone. The older cars were during this time in the process of undergoing the extensive overhaul that brought them to their final state, beginning with the R-38's, then the slant 40's, then the modified 40's and 42's and eventually, the 44's 32's and 46's. The shiny Sumitomo rebuilt slants first appeared on the so-called "BK", which continued to be the base line for the cars. Only after that line was filled, did the rebuilds begin appearing elsewhere. The N also began to receive the next batch of brand new R-68's along with the Q, and both would still have the 32's and the N would get the slants, as they were being diminished on the Q as it too eventually became entirely new cars. The N then took on its character as a "mixed bag", of 32's, slant 40's and 68's.
By now, the BMT south was filled with 75-foot cars, and eventually (as the 46's and 68's would be linked into four car sets) full-length trains, like the former IND. Now the distinction from the BMT east (and the east's near isolation from the rest of the B Division, with only the M running into the south) was complete and sealed for good. The east, still, and permanently restricted to 8 or less 60-foot car trains, then became the domicile of the 40 modifieds and 42's, which went to that section only upon returning from rebuilding. They would be the newest cars that section could have for three whole decades, until the current new car program. The 16's were by then all gone, and the 30's were starting to go as well.
Towards the end of this bridge diversion, in late 1988, the first R-68A's arrived, going to the Concourse D ("DX"), but soon afterwards, the lines were rejoined. At first, this created a mixture of equipment, such as the remaining un-overhauled 42's on both the D and the new Q (rerouted up 6th Avenue), but it soon was adjusted. The D had the lower 68's (2500-2591 or so), plus the 32's and some slants until the 200 68A's were in. The Q had the next batch of 68's (up until the 2700's), and the same mix of other equipment, until all the 68's were in. The N had the highest 68's (2800's and 2900's), plus the 32's and slants as well, and remained that way. The B continued to be the central location of the slants, which made up 100% of its fleet, by now all rebuilt. Queens had its 46's and 32's. The A, its 38's and 44's, the C now received some 32's and even red R-30's, which eventually replaced the last R-10's (which had been painted green). The H Rockaway Shuttle was spun back off from the C as a separate line (as it had once been) during this same systemwide route change that also saw the end of the K, due to the expansion of both the C and uptown B to middays. The H continued to use the same equipment as the C. The east was the 42's, 40 modifieds and the remaining red R-30's.
For a brief period in the fall of 1989, the Q was extended to 207th St. because of a flood on 8th Avenue that contaminated the tunnels with asbestos, cutting off the A. So this line ran a combination of Q and A equipment. The 44's were probably pulled quickly and kept on the A for the reason they were pulled from the Brighton in the first place. But the 38's continued to make their return to the Brighton until the service was restored.
In the early 90's, The TA stretched the fleet by insisting on retiring the last R-30's, which created a bit of a shortage. To replace them, the C received more 32's (now the oldest of the fleet), and began sharing the A's 38's. The 32's would eventually be shared by both lines as well. The BMT east received some slant R-40's, which ran mostly on the L (The L also had the higher numbered rebuilt 42's --done in the TA's own Coney Island shops ("CI Rebuilds"), while the J and M had the lower numbered cars, rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen ("MK Rebuilds"); and the modifieds --rebuilt by Sumitomo like the slants, were mostly on the new "Z" skip stop. However, as time went on, the cars became more mixed, but the slants did remain mostly on the L). The Franklin Shuttle now "moved up" to 32's as well. At some point, a switch was made in Queens, with Jamaica yard's 32's moved primarily to the E, with the R and now G becoming mostly 46's, but continuing to run a few 32's. It was determined that ten 60 foot cars actually loaded crowds better, since you had more doors per train (since all B Div. cars regardless of length had four sets of doors per car on each side).
Also around this time, the TA began looking forward, with the next generation of new technology trains, with the test units of the R-110A (for the 2) and R-110B for the B division. Designed as 67 foot like the old BMT standards so they could run in the BMT east, yet maintain the cost-cutting features of the longer 75 foot cars that could not run there, some design features of the Standards that allowed the longer length to operate safely on the curves were omitted. This, plus tighter safety standards (such as a bigger "safety envelope" of required clearance around cars passing each other or other objects) resulted in the cars nevertheless being banned from the east. So they were ordered as three 3 car sets (which equaled ten 60 foot cars or eight 75 foot cars), and placed on the A. Clearly, the long car concept was proving to have been a mistake on many counts, and would soon be abandoned, seemingly for good. The 110 test would eventually draw to a close, and six of the cars would be reassigned to the C, but they soon stopped running altogether, and along with their IRT counterparts, sit unused in yards (One 110B car placed in the yard of the TA's school building, replacing an R16).
So this is what has set the basic fleet pattern of the B Division that remains today [as of the first editions of this page, circa mid to late '00s]. The RTO department was at some point restructured into three districts: 3, "the North", which combines 207th St/Pitkin and ENY, is the A, C, H (Rock Pk. shuttle) J/z, L and M. District 4, "Queens", which simply is all the lines based out of Jamaica: E, F, G, R, and later, the V. District 5 is "the South", which combines Coney Island and Concourse: B, D, N, Q, FS (Franklin Shuttle), and later the W. (Further simplifying this, B and C would switch northern terminals in 1997, so that the B and D fleet and personnel were grouped together in Concourse Yard (and the Bedford Park terminal) as well as CI; and the A and C grouped together in 207th Yard, as well as Pitkin. The D and its Concourse Yard had earlier been apart of the North, which originally was defined as the uptown IND; hence "north"; but probably at this time was transferred to the South. Meanwhile, the IRT consists of District 1 "Broadway": 1,2,3,7; and District 2 is "East Side", which is 4,5,6 and "8" or "GS"; which is the Grand Central Shuttle).
These 'sections' are useful here, as the B division car assignments roughly follow them, except for "north", since the BMT east is so physically isolated from the IND north. So these can still be thought of as simply "[BMT] east" and "IND north". The C is sort of like a distant cousin to the J, L and M, however; running only eight car trains of old 60-foot units, and long being a repose for the oldest "junk", like that section. (Also, for train crews, the ridiculously tiresome "9 hour penalty jobs", with up to three round trips on the C, four on the weekend J, and five on the L!) The lines are grouped together because they all do seem to form a central hub in the East New York area, (Pitkin Yard is but on the other end of that neighborhood from ENY yard); though once again, they are not directly connected, except through the [at the time] unused "outer Chrystie connection" that joins the IND to Essex St.
•Queens continued to be characterized by its 46's, with the 32's as the secondary fleet.
•The south is distinguished by its 68's (and the nearly identical 68A) along with the slants.
•The IND north had its 44's and 38/32 combinations.
•Then, the BMT east became entirely nearly identical R-40/42's with some of them slants.
At this point, only the 32's were spread around all three districts; being in Jamaica, Pitkin/207 and the few that remained at CI.
Changes down to the Present
One change occurred in 1995, when it was decided to transfer the 68A's from Concourse to Coney Island. So the D received the next higher batch of 68's, up to the 2700's, while the 68A's were now shared by the N and Q. The particular assignments between the N and Q were no longer followed, and any of the CI assigned 68's and 68A's could now appear on either line. This pattern remains to the present.
In 1997, when OPTO (one person train operation) was being introduced on shuttles; since the West End "B" ran as a shuttle at night, and OPTO required newer cars with full width operating cabs (so the train operator could open doors on either side of the train depending on which side the platform was on), the B for the first time received newer cars with the 68A's, (and some 68's), and the slants went to the Q, which they then completely comprised. Entering the age of the Internet, railfans would discuss how they loved the express run, with the low "railfan window" on the end door of the fast slants, over the R68's, which had now been arranged with full width cabs on the ends, and the view partly obscured by polaroid filtered cab door screens (which allow one to see straight ahead out the front, but not sideways, so the crewmember could have some privacy, but nevertheless created a very blurred view), as well as the cars' being apparently slowed down, gaining them the nickname "hippos" by many. The rest of the slants spilled over to dominate the N as well, at this time. The full time Franklin Shuttle also received 68's (another total reversal, from it always having the oldest cars). It actually had them a while before, but they were pulled and the 32's brought back after a train hit the bumping block at Franklin. But now with OPTO, the 68's had to be put back, permanently. (Slower timer signals were installed when the line was rebuilt in 1999). The last eight cars of the order (2917-24) were kept single (where the rest were paired into four car units) for the two car shuttle trains. H then used 44's exclusively (and was soon changed into the present "S"). The Grand Central Shuttle already had the newer cars. The 5, whose nighttime Dyre Shuttle also went OPTO around the same time, was not as fortunate, however. Instead of a complete fleet swap with another line, only about two trains of 62A's were borrowed from the 6. These two consists did run on the full-length line during the day, however.
In 1999, the Williamsburg Brige underwent a several months shutdown and total rebuilding of the track structure. The slants were moved from the L to the M, because the slants had received the special "Marcy Avenue" sticker on it's signs, which became the M's terminal. (This was marked by a yellow triangle near the number board). You would think that the slants would have then been sent to the south, for the portion of the M and a resulting Nassau St. shuttle that was now isolated in that section, but it was reported that some superintendant objected, supposedly due to the fact that he did not want any more slants winding up on the N. Also, there was supposedly a plan to run R68's in OPTO service on the Nassau shuttle, which I thought would make sense. Even though 75 foot cars are banned from Nassau St. (with signs posted on the punch boxes at the junctions of the line with the Broadway and 6th Avenue lines, and at a point north of Broad St. for any such trains that made the wrong turn onto the line and now have to turn back, as well as on the tower machine at Essex St.), the Nassau line itself is not where the obstructions are, but rather beyond Essex. (I even saw filming of a movie with R46's in the middle tracks at Chambers!) But still, this was struck down by someone. So both that half of the M as well as the shuttle used 42's transferred over to Coney Island yard especially for that service. They were borrowed by the N occasionally. When the construction was finished, everything went back to normal.
The next big crop of changes would begin when the Manhattan Bridge entered its final phase of reconstruction, which closed the north side and reopened the south side, like in the 1986-88 pattern. This time, the Concourse (B, D) kept the lowest 68's (2500-somewhere in the 2700's). The now full time Q Brighton local via Broadway and the new W that replaced the B in Brooklyn shared the remaining 68's and 68A's. The N and the "Diamond ‹Q›" that filled in as the Brighton express had all the south's slants, with the addition of the 32's still on the N. (Occasionally, 32's and slants would appear on the W). Since the 6th Avenue line had been extended from 57th St. to 21st. St-Queensbrige on the new 63rd St. line since the last bridge closing, two shuttles were run instead of one, as the single tracking operation required to access Grand St. would limit the "headway" capacity needed to serve the three new stations. The Grand Street Shuttle used R46's from Jamaica, though it was apart of District 5 (the south), using South "OPTO" Train Operators. The other 6th Avenue shuttle that ran from Broadway Lafayette to Queensbridge used R-32's, but I'm not sure whether they were from Jamaica or Coney Island. They appeared to be all "Phase II rebuilds", which used New York Airbrake controllers, and while Coney Island only used that type of 32, Jamaica used both Phase I and II (and 207/Pitkin used only Phase I, which had GE controllers, and some of which had painted rather than stainless steel side door frames). This shuttle as well, was apart of the "south" section. So since there seemed to be no Phase I's on the line (I never saw or operated any, at least), they were probably Coney Island cars. The reason such a question looms is because Coney Island did not have that many 32's by this point; only the handful used on the N, where Queens had more of them. But what happened is probably that more had been transferred from Jamaica to Coney Island for this particular service pattern. R-32 transfers often occurred between 207/Pitkin, Jamaica and Coney Island, with Jamaica as the transfer point between Phase I's and Phase II's: one type of car will be moved there from one of the other yards (even if Jamaica is not involved in the fleet size adjustment), bumping either phase I's to 207/Pitkin, or Phase II's to CI. None of this would explain why the shuttle used only 32's, and never CI's other equipment, such as the 40's, however. This was another factor that made it look like a Queens-based fleet.
While all of this was occurring, the new technology fleet would finally begin to arrive. Car lengths longer than the standard 60 foot were now finally given up on, supposedly for good, and the first batch of cars would be aimed specifically at the east, which was a total change, as that section usually had the oldest equipment. However, this ironically would continue to betray the east's status as the stepchild of the system; this time as the 'guinea pig' for a radical new signaling and operating technology that could allow among other things, supposedly "zero-person" operation, with a person in the front merely watching the train operate itself and taking over should the system fail. (This would also cause problems for riders, with all the ongoing shutdowns of service for the upgrades to the line). The new cars, the R-143, would be designed for this, and placed on the nearly isolated L, and also allow OPTO to expand to the weekend M shuttle, and was also tried on the L briefly, though this was fought off by the union, at least for now.
During this period, the events of 9-11 occurred, also drastically altering service for a time. As debris filled tunnels, the N and R were suspended altogether. While the J and M, which were extended into the south to fill in for them were not really affected fleet-wise, the Q was extended to Continental Avenue to fill in for the R on the north; bringing 68's to Jamaica yard. They were not
shared with that yard's other lines however. There are also reports of 46's winding up on the Q early on, but once again, they were quickly pulled from the Brighton line due to some excessive rumbling problem complained about by homeowners. Some 32's borrowed from Jamaica did run on the line, though. Over on the IRT, the destruction of the 1 line tunnel saw the 1 extended to New Lots, Brooklyn, using a combination of 1 and 3 assigned 62A's. The 2 also borrowed some 62A's, since the 3 was cut back to 14th St. Within a year, everything was back to normal.
During this time, another long standing project was finished; the 63rd St. tunnel connection to Queens. The F was moved from 53rd St. to the 63rd. St. line, and the new V finally began service on 53rd St. It consisted entirely of 46's reportedly to try to make it attractive to riders, who did not use it as much as hoped for). The G then was reduced, with Court Square becoming its primary terminal, OPTO added on weekends, and four car R46's run at all times, and the extra 32's were then moved to the F. (On certain General Orders, where the G replaces the F to Coney Island, the G uses both 8 car 46's and 10 car 32's). The R would also continue to run a few 32's.
The arrival of the 143's during this time allowed all the slants to be sent to Coney Island to join the rest of that fleet. These went to the N, which for the first time since their introduction, saw the 32's disappear for a brief period. The N now went from being a mixed bag, to having one solid fleet, but only for a time. All the modifieds soon followed in coming from the east, and eventually, some of the higher numbered CI rebuild 42's.
In early 2004, the Manhattan Bridge work was finally complete, setting the stage for the current fleet assignment pattern. The policy now was to rearrange lines so that they run the same routes as much as possible (which included making expresses part time, instead of moving the same line to the local when express service didn't run), and put the cars in the worst condition: the rusting 40's, on the part time lines. The D, which became the full time West End line returned to basically the same fleet as before: the lowest 300 or so R68's. The Q also remained as a mix of the rest of the 68's and 68A's. The B now became the weekday Brighton Express, and the W was truncated to its original conception as a complimentary Weekday Astoria-Whitehall local, while the N returned to the Bridge and express, at long last. So the N took the W's mix of 68's and 68A's, while the B reverted to its 1990's solid fleet of 40's, along with the W, now; plus the 42's starting to come in from the east (and the modifieds already there). The N would however frequently share these cars, especially on weekends, when it borrows W equipment stored at the line's small City Hall storage tracks. Also, there are W's stored at Coney Island yard that can go into N service as needed, and one N that leaves the yard in the morning, and turns into a W upon arrival at Astoria, which naturally uses W equipment preferably). The Q also shares them on holiday weekend service increases in December, and the D borrows them for Baseball specials from the B's weekend storage in Concourse.
This latest car and route shift pushed the rest of the 32's out of the yard. Just like the formerly IND R-40's had become strictly BMT cars (completely, at least, both times the 6th Avenue side of the bridge was closed) the BMT "Brightliners" were now completely IND cars! What a total reversal from the time of my childhood! But this was shortlived, as even though new cars were adding to the fleet (none were being retired at this time), there was still a bit of a car shortage with the new bridge service, which was even increased to match ridership. So a few R32's were soon brought back over from Queens, which then took some from Pitkin/207. (8 of 10 cars that were rebuilt by GE as part of the R38 overhaul program, [i.e. "GE R32's" or also known as "Sigma"s] and therefore were mechanically more compatible with those cars and resembled them on the interior as well, were sent to Jamaica, though a few of the pairs eventually went back to 207/Pitkin). At first, the 32's were to go to the B, but the signage still reflected the pre-2001 B-via West End, and/or Washington Heights. So they were placed on the Q, but then as it would figure, spread back to the good ol' N, where they ran almost exclusively (though they were borrowed by the W sometimes, as well as 68/As, especially if a gap in service occurs at Astoria, where an N can be changed into a W. As of 2-07, the 32's had been sent back to the B for some reason, generally using "‹B› Wash Hts-6th Avenue" signs. The B also borrowed 68/A's from the Q at times). The N was now basically a mixed bag again, with 32's, slant 40's, modified 40's, 42's, 68's, and 68A's --and now, some new additions!
The Present and Future
The new generation of cars, the R-160's look nearly identical to the R-143's, except that most were arranged in five car sets to run in 10 car trains in the BMT south and IND, where the 143's were in four car sets for 8 car trains in the east. Not only do the cars have digital route and destination signs, but one of the highlights of the cars was the addition of the new interior "FIND" (Flexible Information and Notice Display) route strip map combining 1¾mm LED generated text (displaying the next ten stations plus scrolling through five consecutive stations down the line), with an LCD screen, replacing the plastic printed cards used on the 142's and 143's, which display the wrong information when the line, route or terminal is changed.
The initial breakdown is as follows:
R160A-1: BMT East (4 car units) 8313-8652 Alstom 340 cars
R160A-2: IND/BMT 8653-8712 (5 car units) Alstom 2006+ 60 cars
R160B: IND/BMT 8713-8972 (5 car units) Kawasaki 2005+ 260 cars
The first 160B train was delivered in the summer of 2005, and the fleet was proposed for the Q line, but began testing on the N. Some sort of electronic problem had the 30 day acceptance test pulled from that line, and moved to the A. After the test was finished, the problem was fixed, and the cars finally began running on the N. The R160A-1’s are the four car units for the eastern division, and would fill out that section, along with the 143's already there. The R160A-2's are 5 car units that were generally believed to be intended to comprise 12 short trains for the G, though were never sent there. However, the acceptance tests also occurred on the A, and soon, the cars started going into service on the N. Both fleets were also later added to the Q as more came in, and when the base order was complete, then the entire east, and a good chunk of the south would consist of identical new cars (with the exception of the east being four car units).
With these deliveries, older cars once again began being retired. It had been long reported that the worst of the slants, 42's and 38's and the oddball GE 32's would go first. At one point, when an R44 was suddenly retired due to structural problems, it was reported that those cars, which were not even scheduled to be replaced until later option orders, were in such bad condition that they would be the first to go. Even though they are stainless steel on the outside, they are still carbon steel in the framework, and on the outer band beneath the windows, so they suffer severe corrosion. The 38's, 40's and 42's are similarly constructed, and also in bad condition; some being patched with "Bondo" glue or metal tape! The 32's, 46's and newer cars are entirely stainless steel, however, and can last much longer. So the proposal for a while was that as 160's fill the N/Q, the 68A's would move to the A, along with some 68's. All of the remaining R-42's would be transferred from the east to the south, and then begin replacing the worst of the cars there.
However, that thinking changed, and it became that the 44's would stay after all (and even get a mini-overhaul, it has been rumored!), and the slants, CI rebuild 42's, and 38's would go first. So instead of the above, the worst slants began to be placed in storage, and then, as the new cars filled the east, the remaining Coney Island rebuilt 42's were quickly retired as well. The old car breakdown, rounded off, is: the 32's are 600, the 38's 200, the slants, 300, the modifieds, 100, the 42's, 400 (divided between Morrison Knudsen rebuilds, which are the first 300 or so, and the worse condition Coney Island rebuilds, which are around 100. Exact count at the UTC Roster at http://www.utcny.org/rtoroster.html#BMT). Since all the new five-car unit 160's (A2 and B) came into the south together, they can be counted as 320 cars, in addition to the 340 A1 cars. The A1's were set to completely fill the east, of course, which was to be completely 143 and 160, though with even more service increases on the L, a few MK42's remain, until option orders are exercized. The rest of the MK's, by themselves, would neatly replace all of the slants in the south. But then the south's 320 160's had also been coming in, pushing the 42's right back out, to replace the 32's in the IND north which would go to Jamaica! This was another unusual development, as 42's have not run there since they were basically new, and spread all over the B Division. At first, this was not even rumored, but I assumed due to the fact that this would be the only section remaining with old cars other than 32's, and I doubted they would put the 42's in Queens in place of its 32's; so I thought. Sure enough, in mid 2007, a bunch of CI 42's were sent to 207th to run on the A. A Spring flood that damaged some cars in Jamaica caused them to be sent over there to help out on the G. (and one from the M was diverted to the F!) When this was over, they went back to 207th, but in storage, rather than back on the A. (And eventually moved to Concourse storage). CI's 32's went back to Jamaica, which sent Phase I's to 207/Pitkin, and a bunch of other 42's and slant 40's were placed in storage. By the time I came back from my stint in the IRT in December, 2007, all 42's were gone from the south, except for the one mated to the 40m. As 160's began to dominate the N, the 68's moved to the W only, while the B stayed with the 40's. In the East, the 160's went to replace all the remaining 42's on the L. Next, by the end of summer, they began running on the J/Z, mostly for the rush-hour skip-stop service. Afterwards, it seems delivery slowed down.
Since the N had the priority on new cars, it had its fleet nearly filled by 160B's. Morrison-Knudsen 42's were sent to the A, which also still had its 32's, 38's and 44's for the moment. The C didn't get them, because it is still using 8 cars, with the conductor directly in the middle of the train, and the conductor marker boards placed accordingly. The 42's do not have conductor door controls in the middle of the train, which are T/O cabs only, like the 32's have both controls. So the East has the boards on the third car from the "south", which would be a conductor cab. I thought it might be a good time to extend the C to ten cars (in which the middle would be the fifth car, which has conductor controls in all 60 ft car classes), but I don't know if there is any immediate plan for that. (the idea was mentioned in Spitzer's state of the MTA address). Eventually, new conductor boards were placed for the C.
The entire new fleet of 660 cars would have neatly replaced the 200 38's, + 300 slants, + the 100 or so CI42's, with the number of new cars being slightly more than retired cars, in order to expand the fleet. However, these retirements were slowed down by the decision to retire the worst 32's as well; which had been assumed would be the last 60 footers to go because of the superior body construction. Truly on a mission, the 10 GE "sigma" cars were about the first to go. Why they would insist on that, because of some air conditioner problem and other lesser mechanical issues, while rusting 38's, 40's and 42's were still widespread; I do not know. Queens remained completely unaffected.
However, if that weren't bad enough, R-32 Phase II began being retired also, as they do not perform as good as the others (To me, they were to the 32 fleet, what the CI rebuilds were to the 42 fleet; with a crummy NY Airbrake/Westinghouse package that just did not brake as good as the GE packaged counterparts of both fleets. Though I still think they should not have been too hasty, as the bodies are in much better condition than the 42's. It would be nice if they could take the GE packages out of the slants and put them into the Phase II's, but they will of course not invest that much work into cars on their way out). But then, the dreaded barge was began to be seen filled with many of this stuff, as the reefing program resumed. Many of us thought it was ridiculous to reef stainless steel that could be valuable. But the good thing about it is that it will last underwater longer then the old carbon steel, so it is far better than scrapping where the car no longer exists. If they were retired last, we could have seen 32's back in the south en-masse and even a few of these 32's in the east, before an "east" option order of additional four car units would comes in! But despite the bodies, the 32's were deemed in worse condition mechanically than the other cars.
Other than the 10 sigma cars, the rest of the fleet was almost evenly divided between 290 Phase I's and 292 Phase II's. In this strategy, the Phase I's in Pitkin/207th were all replaced by nearly half of the MK 42's, and went to Jamaica to replace the Phase II's. There were only 130 Phase I's at Pitkin, while the other 160 were already at Jamaica, where all Phase II's then were.
As of Spring, 2008, the 160's in the south, after the Siemens units being withdrawn due to mechanical problems, continued to dominate the N, and the 40's disappeared from the W at times. 4-7-08, 160's finally began running on the full-length weekday M! They were held up for a while longer on the J, and ran only on the Z because of issues in ordering new closed circuit TV screens for the new conductor positions. So platform conductors were placed at stations where the whole platform was not visible. This was now moved to stations on the M south of Broad St. In the summer, the 160's began taking over the W. (Which at first was not expected to be done, but made sense, as the W and N do interchange cars at the common terminal).
Even though the base order of 160A-1 was not complete, the option order of the 160B's began arriving. Cars in the 9000's began being reported as being seen being assembled in the Kawasaki plant around this same time. The first option (I) was 620 cars, divided as such:
B 260 (8973-9232)
A 360 (9233-9592)
Total Option Base order & 1: 340 (A1), 260 (B); 10 (A2). The full order will be 1280. (340+260+60+260+360), bring it up to car #9592, and closing out the 8653-8712 gap.
The new cars continued to fill the N.
So at this point, when the 660 car base order delivery was completed, the east was nearly completely new cars (a total reversal from past practice). N is pretty much filled with 160's and some 68/68A's. The remaining cars making up much of the W's fleet, first; and soon after, the Q. The rest of the 68/68A's are on the B, D, Q and W. The 40 modifieds and the remainder of the slants were still on the B, though the 40m's began moving to the A in the summer. By Fall, all the 32's were gone from that line and the C (which then was all 38's), and the 40m's gone from the B and you also had many 42's now even on the E, and a few would occasionally spread to the F and R. This again was totally different from the past 31 years at Jamaica.
Plans then began being made for CI 160's to be borrowed by the F, to also help speed up the replacement of the 32's. These cars would have still been based in CI, but used by the F, instead of them being transferred to Jamaica. (Which used to be done back when the F was first extended to Coney Island, and it and the D were the only 10 car IND lines in Coney Island, and there was still more of a unity between BMT or IND lines. —This "coming full circle" is one of the concepts that partially inspired this page).
However, this was pushed off until the first of the 360 "A" Option cars arrived in Jamaica and went in service on the E on Dec. 21 to coincide with the new pick. The last 70 "B" option cars (9163-9232) were then also slated for Jamaica for a total of 430 cars, more than replacing all of the old 60 ft cars there. I had long been saying it would make sense for that line to get new cars, because then it would have the benefits of 60-ft cars and at the same time sport a new car for its crowds.
However, it seemed the IND outside of the Queens expresses was nowhere on the map for new cars at the time.
Once this first option order was complete, the total 450 160B's for the south (Base order-Alstom propulsion, Base order-Siemens propulsion, Option 1-Siemens; 130 cars each, plus Option 1-Alstom: 60 cars cutting off at 9162; see http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dg6xszcp_1gw9f5kw9), along with the 60 Alstom built A's for a total of 510 new cars, should have evenly replaced the starting fleet of 300 slants, 100 modifieds, 110 or so CI42's, (and the 40 or so 32's replaced by the balance of the CI 42's from the East). The entire "pure" BMT (east and south) were almost all new cars. The hybrid Chrystie BMT/IND lines (B/D) then had almost all of the 68's and 68A's, with the balance spilling over to the N/Q/W. The A and C would have the old 60 footers and 44's.
Even with all of this, the south and Queens still pretty much bore their familiar "flavor", with the 46's in Queens, and the 68's still in Coney Island. Sometimes, plans called even for the replacement of everything up to the 46's; which would require a total of about 2600 new cars (the 32s-42's total 1600 cars: 3349-4949. The 44's, and 752 46's are nearly 1000!)
By the end of the year, the Phase II 32's were finally gone, and they began starting on both the Phase I's and the 38's. Slants began returning to the A for the first time since the 80's, and were nearly gone from the B. On Mon, 12-8, the 40's and 42's finally made the move to the C. Conductor boards and/or station car stop signs had been modified, and unlike in the Eastern div. where the conductor was always 3 cars from the south end, here he is always 3 cars from the rear (both directions), and must now change positions at terminals. However, this was very shortlived, as at many stations, the 10 car marker was being used, requiring a long run from the rear of the station to the last car of the shorter train; especially in places like Franklin Avenue, northbound, where the only entrance is in the very rear. So the in the first week of the new year, 32's were brought back to the C, and the 42's and modifieds were sent to the E and R. For some reason, they did not seem to be running on the F. Slants remained on the A, and 38's continued to be retired, with some filling in on the C.
By Spring, R-42/40m combinations would regularly appear on the F and about 3-23, the R-160's appeared too. Training reportedly began on the R crews for them, and in April, at the late night start of a weekend G.O with the G extended to Coney Island, a 160 arriving at the terminal in F service made one trip on the G (Still using the F crew).
It also appeared around this time that the N and W became almost completely R-160, with the Q having more 68's.
So now; the second option of 382 B's announced, increasing the grand total to 1662, ending in car #9974. This was divided between Kawasaki (140, again half with Siemens and half with Alstom Onix propulsion) and the Alstom (210 cars in 5-car sets, and 32 CBTC-equipped cars in 4-car sets for East New York). This was reduced from an earlier proposal of 64 cars which would have more than replaced the 42's. Apparently, there is already a surplus, with probably a greater spare ratio for the 42's, hence not as many new cars will be needed to replace them. (If they just made it 24 more cars the car number would be brought up to 9998!) These were obviously for the L (You would think they would be grouped in with the Kawasaki "B"s, and not the Alstom "A"s). Originally, they planned to make them CBTC compatible to run with the 143's; replacing the 160's borrowed by that line. Instead, they just converted the lowest numbered 160's (rest of 8300's). At some point, 143's began running on the J as well, and this was done to utilize cars with CBTC problems on a non-CBTC line.
As the total number of the old 60ft cars before the 160's arrived and old cars began being taken out of service was 1572, it would be finally a total replacement, plus fleet expansion of almost 100.
As the year progressed, 46's began arriving on the A; and the 42/40m's all went to Queens or 207th for retirement. By Summer, the last slants ran on the A;; then, the last 38's ran on the C, and shortly after, the modifieds were gone from the Queens lines. The E became almost 100% R160, and the F took on a heavy 160 presence.
Plans called for the C to become full length, using both 32's and a few 46's, as they continue to be sent over from Jamaica. (Makes you wonder why they didn't just do that with the 42's; instead of messing up the station stop signs (with crude tape or marker drawing of the numbers often) as I saw when I worked on the line in the summer).
The biggest surprise of all came in September, when an R32 set or two was sent back to CIYD, and ran in B service! This was due to an additional car requirement caused by the line running local in Brooklyn due to the massive station rehabilitation program. Eventually. there was a change in management, that broke up the monopoly of the E and F on the 160's, and spread a few to the R and V.
So it seemed set that next, would begin the 75 foot car replacement. You would have still had another 1000 or so cars to go to get rid of the 44's and 46's. At first, it was widely speculated that following the two 160 options, we would move to a whole new class of car, the R-179's, which would start with 64 for Staten Island, and 208 for NYCT. With these, they would finally make the move back to new 75 foot cars, replacing the current ones. Since a rule has recently been passed forbidding any passing between cars by passangers, this has removed one of the main flaws in the 75 foot car design. There are also rumors about them possibly having five doors per side, which would also address the reduced loading issue of the 4 door per side 75 footers and equal the number of doors of a ten 60 foot car train. These were speculated for either Jamaica or Pitkin/207. The 208 figure would evenly match the number of NYCT "mainline" 44's.
However, we also began hearing about an Option 3 of the 160's, for 238 cars bringing the total to 1900; 200 more than the original 1700 forecast.
That would have closed out the replacement of the old 60 foot cars from the 60's, and the fleet would consist entirely of 44's, 46's, 68's, 143's, and 160's. If the 44's, 46's and 68's stayed where they are, (except for the 46's moving off of the G which would fill in the other Queens lines), you would have the entire BMT East, plus the NQWE with a nearly identical fleet, along with perhaps parts of the F and R; while only the BDFVRS would retain their current familiar "character", fleetwise with the 75 foot cars.
However, after an R44 sent for assessment was determined to have structural problems, then the 44's once again were put on the front line of retirement. So they now slowly began to be pulled, as 46's replaced them on the A, and the C remained the same, and 32 and 42 retirement halted. (The 42's gradually disappeared from the Queens lines, and went into storage at 207th, and only the five sets at ENY continue to run). So now, it would the next batch of new cars would end up replacing the last of the old SMEE's.
Amid continuing speculation about the new cars, in June, 2010, a bid was finally released, of 290 R179 cars, all 60 ft in length, with 250 of them five car units, and 40, as 4 car units, to fill in a further increased car requirement in the East, when the most unimaginable of service changes would go into effect; the merging of the V and M into the new M, from Metropolitan to Forest Hills! So when the final batch of 160's went into service in June, the 42's were still retained in lieu of this change at the end of the month, which would require about five additional trains; which were of course ENY-based four car sets, with the ones on the Jamaica end stored on the express tracks along Hillside, rather than in the yard. (Now, we have M jobs starting at 179th Street, to bring those trains into service at Continental!) So now, the 42's will also be around until the 179's; unless they do decide to replace them with 32's.
Following this bid announcement, there also surfaced word of yet another contract, R-211, which would now be the ones to replace the 46's. So the 179's would end up doing what the 160's were supposed to complete, and are replaced by a totally new contract to finish replacing what they originally were to replace.
One development that surfaced for the R211's is what's called "open gangways", which means instead of an end door and wall, there would be an articulated link between cars! Not sure if it would work with some of our curves, but partial mockups were displayed in the new 34th-Javits (Hudson Yards) terminal mezzanine May, 2017! Current plans are for a few sets of a 211T, which will be open gangway, and the rest as regular. They will apparently finally make the move to a full color LED front sign with the newer smaller LED's with a fine enough resolution that can mimic a rollsign, placed back on the center right, in addition to LED headlights.
These cars would also be ordered for Staten Island, an isolated part of the system (though really a separate agency within the MTA that's run more like a commuter railroad). The history of that system, consisting of only one line, is very simple. It had received "BMT Standard"-like cars in anticipation of a connection to the BMT 4th Avenue line that of course never occurred. In 1972, a tail end of the R44 class replaced them, and remained there to the present. When they received their rebuilding in the 90's, some R46's were borrowed. With a car increase, some 44's from over here were sent over there. All had retained their original car numbers, in the upper 300's and 400's, with the original silver number boards, and were different in being rebuilt by a different vendor, and had the blue non-stainless steel strip on the side replaced by a welded band of stainless steel. In recent overhauls, all seats were painted light blue, where on our 44's and 46's, only a few seats are painted blue in a spot by spot fashion. With the poor condition of the 44's in the new milennium, talk was of pushing the 46's over there again to replace them, but those cars over there were in better condition (in part because of that stainless steel band), and so are planned to be kept until replaced by 211's.
Let me not forget the major development finally occuring in the IRT; the arrival of the R-188 (which included rebuilding many 142's), for the 7, gradually displacing the 62A's back to the 6. (It seems the LED green circles added to the Corona 62A side signs to denote local service were designed with the 6 in mind all along, since they could have used magenta LED's. Red is used for the diamond for express service. The signs are on thin circuit boards with a large hole in the center placed over the rollsign on both sides. An old "energy conservation" switch marked "express/local" came in handy to toggle the sign from the operating cab.
6 and 7 have pretty much the same local/express setup, so everyone knew the cars were going back to the 6 when the new cars were in.
When the service changes went into effect 6-27-10, the effective merger of Q and W created a surplus of cars that allowed the lone 32 on the B to be sent to 207th St. Also, the decision was made that 68's would run more on the N instead of the Q, since that line now changes terminals.
46's freed from Jamaica moved to the A, and several 44's were running on the C while 32's were sent to East NY to have work done on the air conditioners (since shop jobs were cut at 207th). These ran there until about September when they were completely retired for good.
After years of rumors, the G was transferred to Coney Island Yard (fleetwise) and receiving R68's, gradually, in late Summer, 2011 (crew-wise, it remained in Queens). I wished not, as the 160's are much better for the OPTO service, with the automatic announcements, and conveniently placed door control (to the left of the cab window instead of right). Also, the enabler system being built in, and disabled when in OPTO service. Older cars that are retrofitted with enablers require the T/O to have to enable himself to be able to open the doors. For this reason, a plan to add enablers to the 46's was scrapped (though now they have since been added). The 68's, they fixed it so that you do not have to enable yourself when opening on the opposite side, but you do when opening on your operating side. Why bother with any of that at all? While no one seems to be talking about putting 160's on the line now, it would no longer matter if were transferred to CI or not; as it could now use 160's from either end; and they might as well keep it at Jamaica.
When this occurred, 46's were freed to pretty much fill out the R, with some spreading back to the F. With the 160's transferred from Jamaica to coney Island, the N had less 68's.
At the same time, the A and C swapped the 32's and 46's for the summer, to conserve the air conditioning of one of the fleets. In September, it switched back.
This practice was done through 2012, but for 2013, a whole new and surprising change occurred. Instead of swapping the C with the A; they actually swapped with the J instead; not only finally bringing the 32's to the J, but also 160's to the C as well!
This was due to the ongoing air conditioner problems, and even as they did this, the A/C's on the 32's that remained on the C continued failing, leading them to borrow 46's from the A the weekend of Jul. 20 anyway! There was off and on talk about doing a full switch, and also whether it would stay that way afterward, but the swap was reversed in September, except for a couple of R32's remaining on the J all year round.
This was repeated for 2014, with the addition (due to R46 SMS), of 32's occasionally running on the A, and also, even a couple of R68 or 68A from the B; instead of laying up, heading up to 207th to do a trip on the A to Lefferts, at least for a time.
In 2015, this switch was made permanent, until the R179's arrive.
With the 2013-14 split R service due to the shutdown of the Montague tunnel for Sandy repair work, the line became mostly R160's, and some 46's ran on the Continental-Whitehall half, or the whole line to 95th via bridge (weekends), but were kept off of the Court-95th half (which then shared some of the 160's with CIYD), and instead many 46's were sent back to the F.
Also, the order has apparently been placed for most of the 179's to be four car sets, which will commit them to the C and the BMT East. So the 40 car order, instead of being 4 car sets for the East, will now be the five car sets. (They basically swapped the numbers, making many of us think it was a mixed up rumor, until the official documents were released. This because they could order less cars to be able to fill all lines, but now will make it difficult if they ever want to extend the whole C to ten cars, or even to replace the line if other major route swaps are done —Like the old East River Crossings plans to have the E replace it in Brooklyn. As of summer 2014, The news even reported a study being done on the A and C lines for improvement of service!)
On a side note, as far as districts are concerned, it seemed they could not make up their minds, according to the changing management. They were for a while going to go back to almost the original BMT-IND grouping drawn along A-H, and J-S, with the exception of the B remaining BMT. It was changed like this for supervision, but for crews, it kept being put off, then the whole idea was scrapped. 2012 they finally decided to keep the current three districts, but switch the lines as follows: North: A, C, D, H, L; South: B, F, G, N, Q, S; Queens: E, J, M, R).
In 2016, it was annouced for the end of the year opening of the Second Avenue line Q extension and resumption of W service, that the districts would go back to nearly the way they were (F and also the G return to Queens, D return to South, J return to North), with the exception of the M remaining in Queens (but then in 2020 going to the North again!)
During the Myrtle Viaduct repair work of 2017-8, splitting the M, with the main route running to Broadway Junction; a severed shuttle running from Myrtle-Wyckoff to Metropolitan using some of ENY's 42's, serviced at a small barn built in a corner of the Fresh Pond storage yard.
December, 2017 a vigorous new "Subway Action Plan" made good on a plan to lengthen the C, but only some trains. So eight car 46's (which are as long as ten cars of 32's) were moved back onto the line, and some 32's moved to the A
At first, the plan was to place most of the 179's directly to the C and use the rest (With CBTC capability added) to fill out on the East (replacing the 42's, and now possibly 32's). The C would for the first time get brand new cars!
But suddenly, the thinking changed (especially in light of the impending L shutdown), so it graduated to full length trains, but again left with the oldest cars (and the 160's returned to the East).
So the 179's, numbered in the 3000's (stupidly skipping 3000-09, because those were the 110B's, which are completely out of commission by now and should be off the roster), slowly entered service on the J, yet having numerous problems along the way. In the fall of 2018, they changed their mind again and decided to go back to the original plan to split them between the J and C
By February, enough had entered service to push all the 32's back to Pitkin/207, and all the 160's back to ENY; and at the same time, the first ten car unit finally entered test service on the A. A year later, most of the order was complete, and then the move began of 46's from the F and R to CIYD for the southern section lines which would give 160's to Queens for upcoming CBTC implementation, and some of the 32's and 42's being sidelined. Some then began appearing on N W and G.
Entering the new decade, as soon as the order was complete in mid-January, a serious door problem got the entire fleet sidelined! The last R42 had also just been retired, along with some 32's, and these were pulled right back out! The 179's returned after a few weeks, and then a ceremonial final run of the R42's occured 2-12, on the A (for some reason), and with two of the cars outfitted with original looking fake signs (the large letter in the front, and the single curtain with the letter flanked by the destinations [but both inside and outside] on the sides). As this occured, they announced the 32's would follow in the Spring (!), though I don't see how they will be able to stretch the fleet that much for now. A few 46's began running on the C.
The R46-160 swap between CIYD and JYD concluded with the last 46 transferring around May. The final assignment is loosely 46's to N and W (digital signs useful for quick swapping between the lines at Astoria, and they'll probably have what few 160's remain), and the G. The Q got back the 68's, and a few 46's.
With the first R211 cars taking shape at the plant (one shown in a photos with the # 4256) and set for delivery in the year, the likely car assignment was announced in a press release, and like the 46/160 swap, it will based on the expanding CBTC implentation: new cars will go to A, C, G, N, W, and maybe the E. (179's would all go to the J, and the C will finally be full length. Not mentioned where the 211T's would go, but since it's starting out as a test, this is probably what the “maybe the E” is pointing to, and that's the line that would benefit the most from the added space).
B, D, and Q will now be solely left with the old cars, the 68's! While they will reach 40 years old later in the decade, the 211 order has been for 532, and up to 1612 (including SI), which would civer the 200+ 32's, (and remaining handful of 42's), 700+ 46's and 425 68/68A's. (I kind of don't want to see the 68's go so soon, and really, they too should at least make the 50 year milestone like the 32's, and even the poorer condition 42's).
In January, 2019, mention was made of an even newer car class for the IRT, the R-262, which aims to replace the R62's and 62A's "(1,139 + Growth Cars) = approximately 1,500". The new cars are projected to go strictly to the three West side lines, which will get CBTC, and the 142's would go to the 6. They may also have an open gangway version.
At the end of all this, the total fleet will be a bit more homogenized, with the 68's (until recently the newest in the fleet) becoming the oldest in the fleet. If the 68's were replaced by 211s, everything will be nearly identical on the sides, but the 211's have a totally different front. Inside, they will be all nearly identical, except for the 211T's.
We would have come full circle from the days when the three merged companies still had their original standardized fleets, and it would even surpass that as almost the entire system would for the first time be fairly "equal" and similar in equipment.
What created the wide variety of the end of the century was the rapid progression of different car classes almost every year at times, and some classes being modified mid-order, most notably, the R40. From 1964 to 1970, six somewhat different looking cars were released just about each year on the lettered lines:
1965: R32a, with new interior lighting
1967: "slant" R40
1968: "modified" R40
This is what we've been for over ten years now, in the process of cleaning out.
What actually sped up the retirement of the 32's in the Spring (and without creating a car shortage) was the "COVID-19 'novel coronavirus' pandemic", which led to a worldwide shutdown, and in NYC, the reduction of all weekday service to run on a weekend pattern (with the exception of the M, which for some reason continued running normally, and with the C ceasing to run at all due to crews being out sick, but then coming back shortly), which meant all of the weekday only lines ceased running altogether, and eventually all midnight service was shut down to the public, but trains continued running for lack of storage space).
So now all of the old R-10 patterned cars (with the small cabs) are gone, and the fleet consists entirely of:
R46 (now the oldest; A, C, G, B? N, Q W)
R68 (B, D, G, N, Q W)
R68A (B, G, N, Q, W)
R143 (J, L)
R160 (E, F, J, L, M, N, Q, R)
R179 (A, C, J)
On June 3, 2020, a set of 5-car R179s on the A had its link bar break in service at Chambers Street station, causing the consist to be split into two. The entire fleet was subsequently pulled from service. With reduced service continuing (even though the weekend pattern ended, and the regular weekday service restored) the 32's, while taken out of retirement and placed on standby, were as of the first three weeks of this, not needed for service. 160's were able to be borrowed from other lines for use on the A. On July 1st, R32's returned to service on J/Z. In September, the R179s began returning to service.
So they way it looks now:
Queens corridor (including M): most of the 160's
IND North (uptown-8th Ave-Fulton) and G: 211s (with the A probably still having the small 179 10 car fleet)
BMT/IND South divided between 211's (Astoria-Bway-Sea Beach) and 68's and then whatever replaces them, on the Concourse-6th Av.-Brighton/WestEnd corridor. With the full order (1612) of 211s, then the entire South would be 211s with a few 160s.
The B Div. would be divided between 160's on Queens, 211s on the rest of the mainlines, and the J and L with their own peculiar equipment (sort of like when that was where the 16s were). The 143's will now be the oldest equipment, and all 20th century cars will be gone! (Whew! Really getting old, aren't we!)
If the 211T is accepted as a fleet, I imagine they'll be primarily for the E, and then be shared with the F, and I could see the A having some as well. (Some 160's would likely go back to the South. In that regard, it will be sort of like the 80's, with the A having the 44's, an the E and F having the 46's, as the newest and most distinct cars, and again, the J and L with the oddballs, and the East once again getting shafted as far as the newest fleet, as the 211's will likely come only in the 5 car sets, and while the cars would not have the clearance issues like the 75 foot cars, they would not be able to run two sets for a full length train. Perhaps, they might decide to add some four car 211Ts for the L, which could use them, and these would push out the 160's the line uses, to the rest of the ENY fleet.
Unlike the 80's, the rest of the system will only have two different classes).
So it will be:
160's (4 and 5 car units)
Compare with the late 70's and early 80's R 10, 16, 27/30, 32, 32a, 38, 40s, 40m, 42, 44, 46 (11 distinct classes; and with the 68's replacing the 16's, and the 68A's replacing the 10's and allowing the eventual squeezing out of the 27/30's, and the erasure of the 32/a distinction upon GOH, it went down to 9 classes through the 90's and 00's to the arrival of the NTT's)
Barring a holding and rebuilding (life extension) of the 68's for some reason (run out of funding, etc.), the 2030's will likely be a quiet decade (sort of like the 90's were), and then the 40's will likely bring in the next generation, which will again include the East.
While many railfans dread the passing of the old cars (especially for their "railfans' windows"), I, who was always fascinated by the variety of cars, would actually like to see the new generation take hold. The old cars' GOH for the most part removed their individual character, particularly on the inside. (and this is a big part of what made them interesting and memorable to me). The interior of a lower numbered R32, and a higher numbered 32 and 38 (with indirect lighting), and a lower numbered slant 40 (with no air conditioning, and R38 style lighting), and the higher numbered 40's and 42's which added air conditioning, were very different, covering a wide variety. Even the smells of the interiors differed; especially on the air conditioned cars. With GOH, all of that has changed, and the interiors are almost identical, except for the 38's and the 10 GE 32's. The GOH breathed nice new life into the cars, from the grimy, grafittied, run down state of the past (with the air conditioners on those that had it, often blowing out hot air!) They were again nice and shiny, but now the GOH state has itself worn old now, and even though Scheduled Maintenance continues, without the original interiors, it doesn't seem to me like anything worth keeping. The new cars have many features that make things easier, such as automated announcements, a computer system telling you exactly where problems are, and the digital signs, of course. I would like to see the museum keep pairs of each type, and restore at least one car of them to the original state, but as this was not even done on the interiors of the IRT "mixed train" of original exterior colors that ran for the centennial celebration) and whose interior work was not nearly as extensive as the BMT/IND cars), it doesn't look like anyone would ever do that.