NEW YORK - The next generation of subway trains will provide a new commuting experience. They will be open-ended, allowing riders to safely walk between them as their trains speed down the tracks.
"It's supposed to allow better circulation, better movement. That's only good if people aren't blocking the doors, which some New Yorkers continue to do," said MTA Board Member Andrew Albert.
The so-called open gangway design is common in transit systems outside the U.S.
The MTA has asked Kawasaki to manufacture 20 of the cars to test the concept here in the city. The contract provides the MTA with the option of ordering hundreds more.
"There's a whole new learning experience that's gonna come out of it. Some of it's really exciting and some of it's more challenging," said Lisa Daglian, Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.
The new models, known as the R211s, will be equipped to run on the new computerized signals gradually being added to lines across the system.
The fleet will also let the MTA retire the aging R32 cars on the A and C lines that debuted in 1964.
But there will be a downside. The open gangway means a free flow of problems commuters like to avoid.
"How do you get away from somebody you dont wanna be in the same car with? You may have more options to move more quickly, but at the same time, they have more options to then follow you more quickly," Daglian said.
The MTA expects to get its first set of open gangway style cars in May 2021, and then they'll have to be tested before passengers can take a ride.
Meanwhile, the MTA still has not returned to service nearly 300 new cars manufactured by Canada-based Bombardier. The MTA pulled them from the rails this month after two door incidents, including one where a door opened four inches wide in the middle of a tunnel.
"I wanna get these trains back into service, but not until we're absolutely certain and we've been through that paperwork with a fine-tooth comb," said NYC Transit President Andy Byford.
MTA officials expect the cars to be back on the rails later this week.