Let us give thanks to Washington via the Federal Transit Administration providing the critical funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. This paid for the latest new subway cars purchased on behalf of New York City Transit. The first 10-car train set went into service on March 10 on the A line for a 30-day in service test period.
Upon successful completion of this test, additional cars will go into passenger service. A series of FTA grants to the MTA, over several years, will pay for most of the base bid of $1.44 billion awarded to Kawasaki to purchase 535 new state-of-the art R211 subway cars. They will primarily replace a similar number of subway cars currently operating on the A andC lines along with the Staten Island Railway that have reached their useful life.
The delivery of all 535 cars, including 75 for the Staten Island Railway, is anticipated to be completed before the end of 2024. This assumes there are no additional project delays.
There will be a total of 1,175 new subway cars purchased at a cost of $3.2 billion. The balance of 640 cars is anticipated to be delivered by December 2026. Future FTA funding will also pay for many of these cars as well. Previous subway car procurements suffered from delays of several years during plant production, inspection, acceptance, testing, and delivery before riders could reap the benefits.
Both the MTA and FTA have their own respective Project Management Oversight independent engineering consulting firms to supplement in-house staff. They are monitoring and providing oversight on this car procurement. They also provide technical assistance to NYC Transit staff managing the project. These engineering firms prepare monthly reports which provide detailed information on the progress of this subway car procurement.
NYC Transit has a fleet of 6,500 subway cars with 471 stations serving 5.5 million pre- COVID-19 riders. Close to 4 million daily riders have returned. Service is provided on 28 routes spanning four of five boroughs comprising NYC, including Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Only the 500,000 residents of Staten Island have no direct subway connection to the rest of NYC.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously served as a former Director for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office of Operations and Program Management.