The future of the subway car is wide open.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top MTA brass on Monday unveiled new details on its next fleet of subway cars and planned renovations at 31 subway stations across the system.
The agency hopes the improvements will play a key role in addressing its mounting capacity problem.
“Now, the MTA system itself was designed at a much, much different time. For a fraction of the number of people. Literally a fraction,” Cuomo said from in front of old signage displayed in the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn.
“The challenge with the MTA is how do we increase that capacity with fundamentally the same design and then how do we do it quickly.”
Drawing inspiration from London, Paris and Toronto, a majority of next fleet of subway cars — 750 out of a total of 1,025 cars — will feature open gangways to allow for passengers to move freely from one end of the train to the other. They will also be equipped with digital route signage, split hand poles and wider doors, which the MTA estimates will cut train’s waiting times at stations by a third.
Subway entrances will be redesigned with overhangs and will include above-ground service announcements, countdown clocks, enhanced lighting and more visible map information. The painted black bars that serve as station barriers at the turnstiles will be swapped out for glass plates.
“There is no place that has a greater impact on the some 6 million people who ride the subway than our train cars and our stations,” said MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast. “On those days when we have delays and they have to spend more time in the subway station, we need to step it up in terms of the enhanced level of performance we have there.”
As announced earlier in January, the expansive renovations will bring six-month closures to each station. The MTA plans on issuing a request for proposals (RFPs) for the construction of its new subway car fleet later this week. The first three RFPs for station renovations will be issued next week for the agency’s Prospect Avenue, 53rd Street and Bay Ridge Avenue stations in Brooklyn.
RFPs for the remaining 28 stations will be released over the course of the next twelve months. The first contract is expected to be awarded in the fall.
The details on the new trains, known as the r211 model, were part of a larger announcement from Gov. Cuomo and top MTA brass on Monday to outline how the agency is working to address its mounting capacity problems.