The MTA is always looking at different ways to redesign subway cars for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, safety, capacity and more. But their rate of ideas frequently outpaces their budget. According to The New York Times, a new design included in a 142-page release is being pushed heavily by planners, though, and could materialize in 30 to 40 years. The idea is articulated trains, or those with one continuous car that are designed like accordion buses.
The MTA says that articulated trains would allow maximum capacity and mobility while the train is in motion. Other large subway systems like those in Toronto, Berlin and Paris all use this type of train. Downsides include reduced ability to contain messes and less proximity to the conductor. An MTA board member pointed out that the separate cars were once useful for literally containing crime during NYC's more violent decades, but that that is not as much of a factor now.
Any major change like this would need years of review because the subway system is structurally inconsistent, and the tunnels are not readily navigable by a one-size-fits-all train. Looking back, though, the B, D, N, Q and R lines did have articulated trains for 40 years beginning in 1924. Run by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, “the Triplex” had a sleek, modern hinged body, in contrast to the wood cars that were still on the elevated lines. But if there's one thing to take from the history of the Subway, it's that history takes a long time to repeat itself with money so tight. [The New York Times]