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Andrew

Delays and Overcrowding in the 1970s and 80s was WORSE than anything today

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Some of you guys were complaining about the R-160s having problems on The E and J lines in that other thread that was locked.I am here to tell you that The Trains are a Blessing compared to the Late 1970s and 80s.

 

When The R9s were pulled off of the J line back in 1977,I was 10 years old at the time.I cried when they were no longer in service.Those were my favorite trains and they were gone.They were replaced with R27s and eventually R16s.Both cars were AWFUL!!! You would either freeze your ass off,or almost burn to death.On Rare occasions,there would be an R42 which was better,but that was not the case 99% of the time.

 

The E and F line was absolutely atrocious.I have Never seen crowding like that.The cars were so packed,you couldnt breathe,The platforms were filled with so many people,there was often a wait just to get ONTO the platform all along the line from 179th to Queens Plaza.

 

Delays you ask?? Try 1 hour and 50 minutes from Union Tpke to 71st Ave!!!! While that was the Worst delay,delays of 30-45 minutes were not uncommon.

 

The R46s had cracked undercarriages and the E and F had to use R44s for quite awhile.While service got somewhat better,it was not great and trains were packed to the hilt.

 

Trains were SO crowded,You could get a woman pregnant just by standing toe to toe with her.Delays on Any line of 60-90 minutes were so common,it was almost a normal everyday occurence.

 

The R10s had exploding grids when they took excessive power.The Explosions would send a shower of sparks clear to the other side of the platform!!!

 

The Steel Dust from the brake shoes was horrible.If it was anything like asbestos,most of us would be dead long ago.

 

OH,I forgot to add in the element of crime.Many people were robbed and Killed on platforms during that time.There was a young man who was with is father back in the early 1980s who was robbed on an IND platform.The thugs threw the son onto the Third Rail where he hit his head on the rail and was electrocuted immediately.THe system is MUCH,MUCH,MUCH,MUCH,MUCH safer today than it was back then.

 

While the BMT and IND are certainly not perfect,Conditions today are FAR better than they were back then.The crowding and delays are MINISCULE now compared to back then.You Young guys are LUCKY to not have gone through what was a truly HORRIBLE Era for Subway riding.ANYONE over 40 years old will surely agree with me.

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Back then seems to be the worst time... Graffiti everywhere and bs.. Even revenue cars were in bad shape. I cant believie teh R40s were so dirty bk then.. and the R36 and before that were all rusted.. [seen em in pics tho] At least today it changed a lot compared to pre-80s era..

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Not to mention the incident where the motorman and conductor began arguing and almost came to throwing punches over how to handle a sick passenger as fellow passengers took over and summoned help.

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My mother tells me a story she was sitting on the train minding her own business. Three or four other people are too...

 

All of a sudden dude with a knife gets on and slashes a guy sitting near the door, cuts most of his ear right off then runs away...another guy sitting across from my mother was an off duty cop, was gonna go after him but instead stayed to help the victim

 

Why'd the guy do it? No one knows...because he could...didn't take any money nothing...

 

110% agreed things were worse back then..some just don't get it, or why Bernie Goetz became so significant for a short while...

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Even the 90s weren't so enlightening either. I had 3 family friends that were pushed in front of incoming F trains by "schizophrenics" that were pleaded innocent. Another was stab to death by this drunk who wanted everyone out of the train car. Talk about robbery, my poor grandpa was nearly strangled by a chain at East Broadway (F) around 7 at night by a bunch of thugs that stole his money, watch, and even wedding ring.

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Crime was far worse in the 1970s and 1980s, subways included. The city was bankrupt and times were just absolutely awful and very violent. Back to the condition of the subways, most were not air-conditioned and were nosier due to windows being opened, most were grafitti covered, most had MDBFs under 50,000 miles, there were lots of track fires. The trains weren't that old on the B division, especially the R42-R46, but they looked like they went through a war. There were dark cars, cars with hardly any light whatsoever. Crowding and overcrowding and severe delays and sometimes lines to get onto platforms weren't uncommon. The IRT was an absolute horror story running old equipment that was not at all maintained well. The "redbirds" bounced and banged against the tracks, very uncomfortable and unpleasant to ride aboard (the slants felt like luxury cars in comparison). Especially in the 1970s.

 

Thankfully David Gunn said ENOUGH in the 1980s. We are taking the subways back from the vandals. He started with the 7 line. Then the R46 E trains, then F. Then things got into motion and the 1980s started to slowly turn things around, the GOHs started, the IRT got the R62s on the 4 line, and things started drastically improving to the point of even some stations being refurbished.

 

Today, all of the trains are air-conditioned, grafitti is taken care of in a quick fashion, scratchitti has been addressed, much of the rolling stock is from 2001 or newer and the IRT is fairly young with the oldest being the R62. The B division has lots of modern trains and still pleasant to ride in (in the opinions of the average subway rider) R44 and newer. MTA is slowly updating a very old system that runs 24 hours. They are, for the most part, doing a good job. Could they do better? Yes. But they also can do far worse and have done far worse in the past.

 

Thankfully crime is lower in the city and in the subways. There are less homeless and unpleasant encounters. So, I think the aim of the post is to give credit where credit is due, don't romanticize the past including older equipment that has served for years and is due for retirement, and realize, these are wonderful days to ride the subways, even with the GOs and hiccups in the system.

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The crowding was probably overwhelming. Reminds me of 1970s/1980s Poland. Back then, almost all transit systems were overcrowded. During rush hour, many buses were running with all doors open, people half inside, half-outside of the bus, clinging onto the side of the bus for dear life. As a result, buses were slow, and broke down from time to time. Many were so overloaded, that they leaned to one side as if they were about to keel over.

Trams and intercity buses were no different. At least the trains weren't too bad. Worst times like these were around the late 1970s and early 1980s, when most cities were using the then-brand-new-and-oh-so-modern Polish Jelcz PR110M. It wasn't fundamentally a bad bus, but under the crowded, bad conditions of public transit, and the bad roads, they performed HORRIBLY. Many PR110Ms were sent back to the factory for COMPLETE overhauls after only 2-6 years of service. my grandmother remembers them as being quiet and at times, comfortable, but also prone to break-downs, and slow-moving (like Russian tanks). Same situation as riding an R-16 in 1982, minus the graffiti, grime, and crime. Crowding just the same, though. Thank GOD that things have improved by such an outstanding margin here in new york, and over in Poland...

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I wonder how loud the cars were? The sound from 7000+ subway cars that had very little maintenance must have been very awful to hear. There are very few videos that show the subway back in the 1970s and 1980s when it was loaded with graffiti.

The trains were said to be quite loud especially the R10s running down the CPW express, but that's not dependent on how poorly they were maintained. In fact, the old trains were built much louder than the modern trains and have poor suspension. I don't think suspension was even thought of until the R44s came, which utilized airbags to minimize the swaying.

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Even if suspension was a first of the R44, it still doesn't mean anything. They never really endured the hell the majority of the 60' SMEEs have been through and back. R44s needed overhaul too, you know. But most of their problems weren't even fixed.

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Even if suspension was a first of the R44, it still doesn't mean anything. They never really endured the hell the majority of the 60' SMEEs have been through and back. R44s needed overhaul too, you know. But most of their problems weren't even fixed.

 

Yeah R44 had new tech problems back then. I heard that the R46s had really good suspension with the Rockwell Trucks before they cracked. They were specifically designed for tracks running on ballasts and b/c the subway tunnels have the ties in concrete, they caused too much pressure and cracked the axles. I really wished that the Rockwell Trucks never cracked as they were said to have brought the R46s a much better suspension back then than today.

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Also want to add this paragraph from the write up on nycsubway.org to put things in perspective for all the "drama kids" out there...

 

By the end of 1980, complaints about subway and bus services replaced inadequate sanitation as the number one issue complained about to City Hall. On January 8th, 1981, over 1,000 angry passengers refused to leave a Manhattan-bound CC train at Hoyt/Schermerhorn Streets that was ordered out of service due to door trouble. Many complained that they had already been ordered off other trains that had also been taken out of service due to mechanical problems. Police were called, yet passengers refused to leave (and may have been unable to leave, because the platform was extremely crowded). Finally, token clerks handed out free transfers good for other subway or bus lines. The following day, about 2,000 passengers refused to leave a downtown IRT Broadway local that also had door problems and was ordered out of service. However, the crew was able to resolve the door problems and the train continued on its route running 18 minutes late. These were just two of many similar incidents that occurred in the early 1980s, where during rush hours, 25% of the scheduled trains, on average, didn't run. Just how bad was the system by early 1981

 

* In January, there was one Tuesday where 1/3 of the subway fleet was not in service. In the first two weeks of January, 500 trains were cancelled each day. My note: there are approx 8000 runs in the subway each day. Imagine if 500 were cancelled each day

* A trip taken in 1910 that took 10 minutes could take four times as long in 1981.

* There were 30 derailments in 1980.

* Infrastructure was not routinely inspected and few repairs were made until a failure occurred.

* In January of 1981, none of the 2,637 IRT cars had ever had an overhaul.

* Subway rolling stock, in general, hadn't received preventative maintenance since 1975. The average MDBF in 1981 was 6,639 miles, down from 13,900(!) in 1977, and 24,000 in 1970

* The R-44s and R-46s, the newest cars in the system, consisted of 25% of the IND-BMT's 4,178 subway cars. Yet they were the most prone to breakdowns: the R-44s because of sophisticated technology installed in anticipation of operating on a fully automated Second Avenue Line and the R-46s due to their cracked trucks.

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Yeah R44 had new tech problems back then. I heard that the R46s had really good suspension with the Rockwell Trucks before they cracked. They were specifically designed for tracks running on ballasts and b/c the subway tunnels have the ties in concrete, they caused too much pressure and cracked the axles. I really wished that the Rockwell Trucks never cracked as they were said to have brought the R46s a much better suspension back then than today.

 

The axles are not part of the "truck" per se they are part of the wheel assembly. The truck consists of the weight bearing frame under the carbody and this is what was cracking...not axles.

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Yeah R44 had new tech problems back then. I heard that the R46s had really good suspension with the Rockwell Trucks before they cracked. They were specifically designed for tracks running on ballasts and b/c the subway tunnels have the ties in concrete, they caused too much pressure and cracked the axles. I really wished that the Rockwell Trucks never cracked as they were said to have brought the R46s a much better suspension back then than today.

 

I rode the 46s on the (F) when they had their original trucks. I'd say they were like a lesser form of the LIRR's M1-M3. The ride was cushioned and softer than the R44 (which was revolutionary, smooth compared to R42 and older), the replacement trucks were noticeable stiffer in the ride characteristics. Today's R46, though reasonably smooth, are nothing like the original. It was like a commuter railroad.

 

Here's the thing with the R44 which is so trashed here that made it a landmark train. The jump in interior aesthetics (remember, this is a 1971 designed train so of course it seems dated today), ride quality, quietness, even speed, trumped the R42 and earlier. And I will state today, there has not been such a big jump. R68 to R143 is not as big as jump in ride quality, quietness, noise/vibration as the R44 over the R42. So hopefully, though the R44 has its share of problems, it'll get a bit more respect and at least acknowledgement that it is the train that really raised the bar for the MTA and still gives a respectably pleasant ride today, some 37 years later.

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So true! It truly did remind me of railroad cars. (Paralleling the ADB's, which in some ways reminded me of parlor coaches). My first ride was in the car with the carpet! The NTT's are nothing like the 44's and 46's. The Eastern Div skipped over that whole design, with the 42's being the newest thing they could have. So I was happy they would finally get modern cars, but when I first saw the interior mockups of the 143's, it seemed more like a 42 interior in comparison. And the rides are nothing like they were on the pre-GOH 44's and 46's.

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So I was happy they would finally get modern cars, but when I first saw the interior mockups of the 143's, it seemed more like a 42 interior in comparison.

 

For some of us "old timers", the R142/143/160 feels kinda retro. Even the color scheme, their bluish periwinkle seats are reminiscent of the original aqua color of the R32-R42 interiors.

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This thread is so informative. I was a young kid when the subways were at the tail end of being in a state of disrepair so I remember certain things but to hear just how rough it was is nothing short of incredible. Thank God the subways are NOTHING like they were in the late 70's - early 80's.

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Also want to add this paragraph from the write up on nycsubway.org to put things in perspective for all the "drama kids" out there...

Excellent!! Yet we somehow "survived".This is what really gets me annoyed today.The Young train Buffs complain about the smallest,tinest,most nonsenseical crap,when the truth is Compared to that era There is NOTHING that happens today that should even garner a complaint.

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Excellent!! Yet we somehow "survived".This is what really gets me annoyed today.The Young train Buffs complain about the smallest,tinest,most nonsenseical crap,when the truth is Compared to that era There is NOTHING that happens today that should even garner a complaint.

 

Agreed. At 23 I'm a youngin' too, but I am sick of everytime the holiday arnines run and I go for a ride seeing a bunch of foamers screaming about how rusted roofs on old SMEE cars make them feel "unsafe" or over and over again about how the R160's are "boring". Yeah riding an R16 in the early 80's was anything but boring - you never knew what was gonna blow up!

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Agreed. At 23 I'm a youngin' too, but I am sick of everytime the holiday arnines run and I go for a ride seeing a bunch of foamers screaming about how rusted roofs on old SMEE cars make them feel "unsafe" or over and over again about how the R160's are "boring". Yeah riding an R16 in the early 80's was anything but boring - you never knew what was gonna blow up!

I agree 100% The R42 had been rusting for as long as I can remember and I don't remember anyone back then complaining as they ran like workhorses. The R42s at Jamaica are still the best ones out there and they will go when it's time.

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I could care less about the roofs. If they were that bad, they would have been taken out of service! So they should be grateful that they're kept dry on a rain day, old car or not. Just my say.

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