RAPID TRANSIT EQUIPMENT
Please note that the condition of preserved equipment varies. It is not to be assumed that cars listed below are operable, or even complete. In addition, cars are listed in their current state. Therefore, a passenger car converted to work service that exists in the work service state will be listed as work equipment (and its Car # will correspond with its period of work service). Cars that ran part of their service lives in other systems, but which are preserved in an appearance representative of their service outside New York City, have been excluded from this list. Cars that are part of non railway museum collections as display pieces have been excluded (such as the redbird sitting outside Queens Borough Hall), as it is unlikely those cars will be restored operable. Also excluded from this list are any retired cars which are still in use in transit systems as work equipment, or for training (ie: "schoolcars"), or which are awaiting scrap or reef.
For explanations of abbreviations used, see the "key" at the bottom of this document.
The Interborough Rapid Transit Company, or IRT, was the operator of the first subway route in New York City opening in 1904. The IRT system was known for its speed, and its smaller cars, although it was not particularly adventurous in designing new subway cars for its fleet. As a result, all of the prewar IRT passenger cars maintain a distinct "feel" unique to the IRT. Originally, the IRT used a mix of steel subway cars and "Composites", or protected wooden cars. Sadly no Composites were saved over the years, although the "Mineola" is of similar structural design. However, the High Voltage (Hi-V) and Low Voltage (Lo-V) equipment preserved represents the bulk of the steel cars used by the IRT built during the prewar era. It is important to note that Hi-V's and Lo-V's were distinct car classes, and not compatible. The World's Fair Lo-V preserved is the sole surviving representative of the final order of new cars purchased by the IRT in 1938 just prior to the system's Unification in 1940. The last Hi-V's to see passenger service in New York City did so in 1958, and the last Lo-V's were phased out in 1969.
* IRT President August Belmont's Private Car
Brooklyn Rapid Transit / Brooklyn Manhattan Transit had a very complex corporate history that we won't get into here, but as the operator of the first non-IRT rapid transit subway in New York City, was extremely important to the development of subway equipment in future years. By 1923, the BRT had reorganized into the BMT, but every one of the designs of cars for this company represented ingenuity and the latest in available technologies. The Standards, commonly referred to as "A/B's," set the precedent in strong construction for a steel subway car. Using a frame supported by truss construction, the bodies were extremely durable. The cars were also a unique length (67 feet) and would inspire the later Staten Island Rapid Transit ME-1's. However, partly due to their larger size, the A/B's were heavy and therefore slower than many cars on the IRT. But the BRT/BMT differentiated itself from the IRT by focusing on passenger environment, and the cars were a joy to ride nonetheless. For instance, the Standards were the first subway cars to feature destination rollsigns, and the first to feature conductor's door controls that were inside (rather than outside) the car. The later Triplex cars, known as "D types," attempted to cut down on weight by grouping cars in 3 car units and placing the car's trucks beneath an articulated walkway connecting each car in the section. Therefore, only 4 trucks would be needed for 3 cars, instead of 6. They maintained, and even improved upon, many of the amenities from the "A/B's." Later designs would include the Multi-Sections, which were articulated 5 car units and quite fast. Though the Multis, built in 1936, ran until 1961, none were saved. Other later designs included the experimental fleet which included the Green Hornet, Zephyr, and Bluebird - each of which was a prototype 5 car unit. The Zephyr was the first stainless steel train ever ordered for New York City. Sadly, like the Multis, none of the experimental cars were saved either. However, a good deal of the older BRT/BMT equipment is still around, and it is hopeful that many of these innovative cars will run for the public again someday in the future.
The Independent Subway System had its first passenger run in 1932. The first municipally run transit operator in New York City, the IND built its system for speed, and its cars to carry the masses. Using a car length of 60' which many subsequent car orders would emulate, the IND was designed to move a lot of people quickly, and it did. All of the prewar cars designed for the IND were very similar, could operate together, and are sometimes referred to casually as "Arnines" to represent the R1-R9 car classes. However, a handful of minor differences do exist among the classes that make up this group. The last of the R1-R9 subway cars ran in passenger service in 1977, but for close to half a century many of these cars were the backbone of the IND. Today, the R1-R9 classes of cars is extremely well represented in museum fleets, and that is a testament to their durability and strong construction. In addition, one among this class was to serve as a preview into what was ahead for subway car design. After R-7A 1575 was damaged in an accident, it was rebuilt to serve as a prototype for the next generation of subway car to arrive in 1948, the R-10. Mechanically, it remained an R1-R9 type car and ran with the rest of the fleet until its retirement.
* Car 103 was refitted with axiflow fans to replace the original paddle fans.
** Though car 1575 was a prototype for the later R-10s, it was never operationally compatible with anything other than other R1-R9 cars. It was rebuilt in 1946 as a prototype for the passenger environment that would be used with the R-10 cars to be ordered in 1948. It continued to operate in solid trainsets with other R1-R9s until the end of its service life.
By 1948, the time had come to modernize the fleet. Unification had occurred in 1940, and the city was now operating the subways under the NYC Board of Transportation. For simplicity, all of the car orders to be referred to below will be listed as operating under the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), which to be accurate was not created until 1953. When the first car orders of the next generation came in 1948, they featured many things new to riders. Gone were the paddle fans and incandescent light bulbs of much of the prewar equipment, replaced with covered fans mounted high on the poles in the subway car and fluorescent lighting. The cars also featured improved propulsion and braking control, which simplified the motorman's ability to make the cars stop. This new system was known as "SMEE" and replaced the older "AMUE," "AMRE," and "AML" systems on the prewar IRT, BMT, IND, and elevated equipment. For a more in depth explanation of SMEE, refer back to the "Subway" page. Various later cars, starting in the 1950s, would begin to experiment with air conditioning. However, these experiments did not ultimately work, and fans remained the order of the day. Later cars in this grouping, starting with the R-15, would use ceiling mounted, enclosed axiflow fans to circulate air around the car. Many of these cars are preserved, and a good deal are operational. The unique car in this set is car 8013, part of the R-11 order. The R-11 order was for 10 cars to be used for the Second Avenue Subway, which was planned to be ready for the 1950's. The remainder of a larger order would be placed when the line was finished. Since the line was never finished, the remainder was never ordered. However, the 10 R-11 cars were the first stainless steel car order made for the subways under city operation, in 1949. It would not be until almost 15 years later that another stainless steel car would be ordered. The R-11 listed as preserved below is the only one of its kind left in the world.
* 7371 was converted to a work car late in its life. However, it is slowly being rebuilt back into a passenger car, and as such is listed with the other passenger equipment rather than as work equipment.
** 8013 was part of the R-11 "Million Dollar Train." The 10 cars making up the train were so named because each car cost over $100,000 US. It was the first time in history that 10 cars had cost so much. The high cost was due to the stainless steel body construction during the 1940's, a time when the cost of stainless steel was still extremely high.
Train crews and enthusiasts alike often agree that the best place to mark the cutoff between the oldest "SMEE" cars and the newer equipment that would run alongside it for much of the period 1960-1988, is between the R-22 and R-26 orders. This cutoff is often used because the R-10 through R-22 were never part of the "General Overhaul" (GOH) program, while the R-26 through R-42 were. During GOH, they underwent many major mechanical modifications the older cars didn't. For instance, by the end of their lives, the vast majority of these cars featured working air conditioning (only the R-27, R-30, and R-33 World's Fair did not). Additionally, the R-26 through R-42 were all arranged in co-dependent two car units known as married pairs, with one notable exception (the R-33 WF singles used as the 11th car on "7" trains). This large grouping of cars includes the "redbirds" - the R26, R28, R29, R33, and R36 orders, and as many hold, the R27 and R30. It also contains the first bulk orders of stainless steel subway cars for New York, the R-32, R-38, R-40, and R-42.
* 9306 was never rebuilt like many of the other R-33WF cars. It still contains all of its original mechanical equipment and has been in the NY Transit Museum since 1976, operating occasionally on fan trips and nostalgia trains.
** 9327 features the logos of the NY Yankees and NY Mets on its body, as it was part of the special train that ran during the 2000 "Subway Series" when the Yankees and Mets faced each other in Major League Baseball's World Series.
This grouping refers to any of the wooden elevated equipment built for Manhattan or Brooklyn. Some of these cars remained operating in New York City as late as 1969. When the remainder of the Myrtle Avenue Elevated was closed and subsequently torn down, these cars were retired. However, that did not change the fact that for close to a century, elevated equipment similar to this had been providing rapid transit service in New York City. Of course, the oldest of the elevated equipment had been pulled by steam, but the electric cars that came later in many ways mimicked the feel of the earlier cars. Further, there are many who say that the "open air" gated el cars of yesterday, which had outdoor riding platforms between cars, offered a unique and charming kind of ride that nothing since has ever duplicated. Those fortunate enough to enjoy a ride on a warm, sunny day on any of the equipment below can get an opportunity to experience that for themselves.
* Cars 1273, 1404, and 1407 were originally part of the "Q" car rebuild program in 1938. Subsequent to their retirement from service, they were rebuilt back into BU Gate Cars. However, they have not been fully rebuilt back to their original state. They are still co-dependent as a 3 car set like other "Q's." In addition, due to tunnel clearance restrictions, they no longer feature the clerestory roof vents that characterized their original appearance. Hence they are sometimes referred to by those familiar with this tale as "BQ's," though that is not (nor will ever be) an official designation.
** Convertible BU Gate Cars feature removable siding panels that contain windows. During cold weather, these panels would be installed in the cars to keep the cold air out. However, during the summertime, these panels could be removed by the shop to allow a brisk breeze into the car as it rode along. These cars could be a real treat to ride in the summer.
^ "Q" Type cars were originally built as BU Gate Cars. In 1938, they underwent a rebuild to enclose their end platforms, add side doors, unitize them into 3 car sets, and improve door control for the train crew. They ran in this rebuilt appearance until 1969.
This refers to rapid transit equipment that ran on what is now known as the Staten Island Railway (formerly Staten Island Rapid Transit). SIRT ME-1's were very similar to BMT "A/B" Standards. However, they were much faster cars designed for operation over the SIRT right-of-way. They were similar to many of the prewar cars in terms of their interiors as well, featuring incandescent lighting, paddle fans, and rattan seating. Their door style was most similar to the IRT Lo-V class of cars. They provided service on Staten Island for close to 50 years before they were replaced in the 1970's by stainless steel SIRT ME-2's. You may recognize the ME-2's by their more commonly used name in New York transit circles, the R-44SI class of cars.
This listing comprises all of the work equipment used in subways or on elevated lines. This includes locomotives as well as any other work service related cars. Many of these cars were former passenger cars, but since they exist as work cars presently, and there are no plans to build them back to passenger cars for historical purposes, they are considered as work equipment for this document. For those cars, the Car #'s listed reflect the work service period. The SBK steeplecabs listed were built for the South Brooklyn Railway, which was also unified into city operation in 1940. A unique car in this set is car 51050, which was used for the 1995 movie "Money Train" starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. Interestingly enough, also listed here are cars 0R714 and 1R714, which were actual money trains and bear little resemblance to the train used in the film. Actual money trains were very similar in appearance to other work cars, to attract as little attention as possible to the revenue collection occurring within. With the advent of MetroCards and increased purchases made on credit/debit, there is now less physical money than ever to collect in the system, and the last money trains to roll in the New York City Subway did so in 2006.
* This car was used in the 1995 Columbia Pictures film "Money Train." After being rebuilt from an R-22 and used for filming of the movie, Columbia Pictures donated the car back. It was never rebuilt to its original appearance, and has been left as it appears in the movie.