Most New Yorkers need to visit the New York Transit Museum to experience the magic of vintage trains, but until recently, C train commuters got the opportunity to ride them every day. Upon their retirement in 2022 at age 58, the R32s on the C line were the oldest Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) trains—and one of the oldest in-use subway cars in the world. Now, C train straphangers will be among the first to enjoy the MTA’s brand spanking new R211s, unveiled in a test ride last week.
MTA leaders recently hopped one iteration of the R211, a new, more spacious train that’s designed to speed up boarding and better accommodate disabled riders. Most notably, some of the new trains are essentially a giant tube, thanks to open gangways that replace individual cars. To make getting on and off the train faster and easier, the door openings on these models are 4.8 feet wide, about eight inches wider than the doors on a typical subway car.
Alongside these major changes, the R211s have more accessible seating, digital displays that will give more information on each station, brighter lights and signage, and security cameras. Overall, the MTA ordered 20 open gangway R211 cars and 515 R211 cars with what the MTA calls “standard futuristic amenities,” for a total of 535 R211s.
The standard models are slated to go into service this spring on the A and C lines, while the bendy boys will make their debut near the end of the year.
“Putting these cars into service will be a huge milestone in the MTA’s efforts to modernize our fleet,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a news release. “These modern subway cars will of course upgrade the passenger experience, but they will also complement our signal improvement efforts and allow us to run more trains and provide more frequent subway service.”
“Wider doors and additional accessible seating will drastically improve the experience for all riders and particularly those with disabilities,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo added. “Open gangway pilot cars will also allow customers with mobility devices or strollers the ability to move through a train like never before, and I’m excited to try out these new cars.”
These new members to the MTA fleet will eventually be joined by an additional 640 R211s. All together, the agency is adding 1,175 new subway cars over the next two years.