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Transportation

NYC Finally Gets On Board With the Subway Car of the Future

The city announced that it will test “open gangway” cars that the rest of the world has been using for years.
Cities outside the U.S., including Hong Kong, have long used the "open gangway" design in subway systems.
Cities outside the U.S., including Hong Kong, have long used the "open gangway" design in subway systems.Flickr/David Leo Veksler

When it comes to railways and underground transportation, there’s no denying that U.S. cities lag behind other major cities. The U.S. has yet to fully adopt universal transit cards, we struggle to get streetcars right, and let’s not even get started on the lack of high-speed rail. But with New York City’s latest plan to roll out 10 new “open gangway”-style subway cars by 2020, at least one American city is finally starting to catch up to the rest of the world.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced in January that it plans to spend $52 million to test out the prototypes as part of its $2.7 billion proposal to replace 40-year-old trains on two of its lines. The design of the trains is simple: Open pathways between connected cars allow passengers to move freely from one end of the train to the other, which means no more darting in and out of entrances to switch to a less crowded car. The design has been in use, by one count, in over three-quarters of metros outside the U.S.—from Toronto to London to Tokyo.