Tired of having to unhinge your rib cage in order to fit inside your train home? The MTA thinks it might have a fix: open gangway cars. Popular in Europe, the articulated train style, characterized by its accordion-like connectors, allows for more passengers and makes it easier for folks to move around. The MTA’s new Capital Plan calls for the addition of 10 of these open gangway train cars to the fleet, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of train cars in use, but could still make a big impact on commuters. The prototype cars make up just a small part of the $29 billion expansion plan, which stretches through 2019.
Open gangway train cars are easy to find in Europe, particularly in Berlin and Paris. There, the articulated train cars provide passengers with more space and mobility than the closed cars running the tracks under NYC. The city’s transit agency has shrugged at the concept in the past, citing outdated safety concerns as an excuse for not giving them a trial run. The MTA last broached the subject of open gangways two years ago in a 20-year needs analysis. The allocation ended up in the proposal for the new Capital Plan the following year.
The capital plan outlines the purchase of 10 open-gangway prototype cars with the $52.4 million expenditure allocated for next year. The new articulated train cars will make up a tiny fraction of the next 950 cars the MTA plans to order in the next four years, but it’s a step into previously forbidden territory. The new cars could help alleviate some rush hour congestion inside the train cars, since the cars increase capacity by just 8-10 percent without any other scheduling changes or expensive investments.