You might think that the last stop for old NYC subway cars is deep in Brooklyn or at the edge of the Bronx, but the truth is actually much more interesting. Photographer Stephen Mallon has spent the last three years tracking decommissioned cars as they are sent to their watery graves at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. But the story doesn't just end there -- the train carcasses find a new life on the sea floor as artificial reefs, helping to bolster marine life along the East Coast.
For ten years, New York City subway cars have been helping the environment, not just by offering up green transportation, but by rebuilding fragile eco-systems on the seabed along the coast. After a life of transporting New Yorkers all around the city, MTA train carcasses are sent to their new homes, which can be anywhere from coastal Delaware to South Carolina.
Mallon’s photographs follow this journey in a series he appropriately calls “Next Stop, Atlantic.” The abandoned cars are first stacked in their own junkyard, lined up side-by-side instead of end-to-end. Because their doors and partitions have been removed, the cars appear almost as skeletons rather than old vehicles. Mallon’s series shows the stacks of trains out to sea on massive barges before they reach their destination.
As the subway cars are cast into the ocean, Mallon captures their almost poetic descent, before they settleon the bottom of the ocean to become an eternal home for fish, algae, coral and other plants.