The MTA’s newest subway cars don’t have the best track record

Posted On Thu, November 21, 2019 By

Posted On Thu, November 21, 2019 By In Transportation

Photo by rhythmicdiaspora on Flickr

This week marks two years since the R179 subway cars went into service, but records show the MTA’s newest cars end up breaking down more frequently than those that have been running for decades, THE CITY reports. The cars—which run on the A, C, J, and Z lines and cost about $2 million each—failed an average of every 127,374 miles between March and October before improving slightly to a 156,962-mile breakdown rate last month. By contrast, the R62 cars that have been running along the 1 and 3 lines since 1984 run into problems every 265,324 miles.

“Our contractual requirement is 150,000 miles, so we’re at that point,” Sally Librera, head of subways at New York City Transit told THE CITY. “We would like to see the performance go higher and we think as we continue to work through early performance issues, we’ll be able to do that.”

Currently, the R179 ranks sixth in terms of the average distance between failures. The best-performing car on that list is the R188 which was introduced to the 7-line in 2013. Made by Kawasaki, those cars travel an average of 561,984 miles before having an issue.

Reports uncovered by THE CITY show that the R179 has had multiple issues with “very uncomfortable” master controllers that lead operators to experience pain and, in at least one incident from October 24, stop service because of it. Another common and dangerous issue involves how the train’s brakes react to rain, seen most recently on October 14 when a J train overran the tracks at Gates Avenue in Brooklyn.

These issues have led the MTA to strike a deal with manufacturer Bombardier to tack an additional 18 cars to their initial (now delayed) order of 300. Those 318 subway cars are expected to be delivered by the end of the year, and they’ll replace the MTA’s oldest trains that have been running since 1964 and fail every 33,949 miles.



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