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R68 Subway Car

R44, 40 Years Later

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the R44. The R44 was built from 1971 to 1973 by the St. Louis Car Company and ran on various NYC Subway Lines, notably the (A), (D), (E), (F), (S)/(H) Rockaway Park Shuttle and the Staten Island Railway. The R44 in many ways changed the face of the New York City Subway. It was the first subway car to feature the now famous bing bong chime, which all cars made after it use. It was also the first subway car to feature the full-width cab. No longer would a train conductor have to switch between cars on a moving train to open/close car doors. With the creation of the full width cab, conductors just have to cross from one side of a subway car to the other and vice versa to open a train's doors. It also made it possible to for one person to operate a train, instead of the standard two (a motorman/woman and a conductor). That is known today as One Person Train Operation or OPTO. It was also the first subway car to have unpainted interiors. It used a mixture of faux wood panels and wallpaper in it's interior design. The R44 also made the space saving A-B-B-A and A-B-B-B-A car arraignment popular, in which there are two operating cars on each end and two or three cab-less or non-operating cars in the middle. That is used with today's R46, R142, R142A, R143, R160A, and R160B fleets. The elimination of useless cabs has led to more room and seating for passengers. It was the first of six cars to utilize bucket seating, though the MTA has since switched back to bench seating with all newer orders. It was also the first of four 75 foot long NYC Subway Cars which also include the R46, R68 and R68A. Unfortunately, the R44 was the last car to be built by the St. Louis Car Company, which was forced out of the business of passenger car building to the various problems of the fleet. The R44s were overhauled between 1991 and 1993 by Morrison Knudsen and helped made the R44 a more reliable subway car. However, due to various structural issues, many R44s were put out of service in 2010. However, some R44s are still utilized by the Staten Island Railway. Do you have any thoughts and opinions on this anniversary and on the R44s themselves?

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In my opinion, I feel that the MTA played a huge role in the failures of the R44 (and R46). I feel that the MTA should have tested out the technology used on those fleets. The technology and structural components used on those cars were something that no New York City Subway had ever used before. In my opinion, the reason why the R142, R142A, R143, R160A, and R160B are so successful is because of the R110A and R110B. Those two cars were built specifically to test out the technology that is used today on the aforementioned R142, R142A, R143, R160A, and R160B fleets. Getting the kinks worked out on the R110A and R110B led to the success of the NTTs that run today. If the MTA had only done that with the R44 and R46, maybe history would be different.

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the MTA made some really bad decisions with the R44 and R46 cars. In retrospect they should have been designed and built using proven technology, not the latest, untested gizmos. At least they managed to get it right in the 80s with the R62 and R68 cars, they went back to simpler technology.

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A friend of mine said it best when it came to the R44s. They should have been pushed right off the car float and into the water. He only reasson the TA got the cars is because they where what the Feds would pay for. From day one until today, those cars are junk.

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Had the St Louis Car Company Held on for another few years they probably would have won the LRV contract in Boston and San Francisco. I have no doubt that these cars would have still been in service and not been the disasters that the Boeing's were.

 

 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the R44. The R44 was built from 1971 to 1973 by the St. Louis Car Company and ran on various NYC Subway Lines, notably the (A), (D), (E), (F), (S)/(H) Rockaway Park Shuttle and the Staten Island Railway. The R44 in many ways changed the face of the New York City Subway. It was the first subway car to feature the now famous bing bong chime, which all cars made after it use. It was also the first subway car to feature the full-width cab. No longer would a train conductor have to switch between cars on a moving train to open/close car doors. With the creation of the full width cab, conductors just have to cross from one side of a subway car to the other and vice versa to open a train's doors. It also made it possible to for one person to operate a train, instead of the standard two (a motorman/woman and a conductor). That is known today as One Person Train Operation or OPTO. It was also the first subway car to have unpainted interiors. It used a mixture of faux wood panels and wallpaper in it's interior design. The R44 also made the space saving A-B-B-A and A-B-B-B-A car arraignment popular, in which there are two operating cars on each end and two or three cab-less or non-operating cars in the middle. That is used with today's R46, R142, R142A, R143, R160A, and R160B fleets. The elimination of useless cabs has led to more room and seating for passengers. It was the first of six cars to utilize bucket seating, though the MTA has since switched back to bench seating with all newer orders. It was also the first of four 75 foot long NYC Subway Cars which also include the R46, R68 and R68A. Unfortunately, the R44 was the last car to be built by the St. Louis Car Company, which was forced out of the business of passenger car building to the various problems of the fleet. The R44s were overhauled between 1991 and 1993 by Morrison Knudsen and helped made the R44 a more reliable subway car. However, due to various structural issues, many R44s were put out of service in 2010. However, some R44s are still utilized by the Staten Island Railway. Do you have any thoughts and opinions on this anniversary and on the R44s themselves?

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If it wasnt for the failers of the 44s, the 46 Rockwell truck, and the Grumman 870, the MTA would have never learned to test test test!

 

The 44s were indeed a result of federal funding . That funding was made possible by the SOAC train (whose asthetic design was used for the 44s and 46s with a different front /bulkhead). NYC, Philly and other cities tried out this train.

 

Now yes, the 44s were lemons. too much tech too soon on an old system. Other cities like DC and San Fran had newer ATO systems from the start. The MTA wanted to catch up. Bad idea. lilbluefoxie had a point. soulda been built using standard tech for our system. Maybe the 62s and 68s coulda been the NTTs they wanted in the 70s. But look at us now. Other cities are looking at what the MTA is doing with our fleets for the 21st Century!

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The R44s (and R46s) are just a product of unchecked ambition, failure of planning and a system that fosters incompetence and corruption. Ironically their biggest contribution to the agency involved the creation of a new system that helps (in theory) prevent the disasters these cars caused.

 

I will give the R44s credit for breaking the speed record and for being the first series of cars to have doorchimes.

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40 Years ago these cars were on this line even though this pi was taken 2 years ago:

S5033416.jpg

S5033385.jpg

 

Thats when I cought these on the (F) back in the summer of 2009

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I loved them on the F - the 1st line they serviced. I started riding the subway on a daily basis to high school in 1974. As I would wait for a EE train at Woodhaven Blvd I would love to see R44's flying by on the express track. I would often change at Roosevelt Ave and change back to the EE at Queens Plaza just to experience an R44. I hated that by then they were already covered with graffiti but happy when they were cleaned in the 80's. They were never the same once the distinctive blue stripe was removed.

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R44s were without a doubt, the biggest failures in NYCS history. I have never had such a bad experience with a subway car so fat, slow, ugly, and full of mechanical, structural, and technical problems. Every time I rode on them since my first ride in February 2005, something had to malfunction, from the doors to the lights to the air-conditioning, the list goes on. It got so bad that starting in Fall 2007, whenever I had to ride the (A), I waited for an R32 or R38 train or take the (C) instead, which at that time had the same fleet as the (A) except that without the R44s, even though it was the local. I still do that today because the R32s are 10 times better than the R46s. When the R40M/42s replaced the R32/38s on the (A), I stopped riding that line entirely since the R42s were my second least favorite cars until the R44s begin diminishing last summer.

 

(A)wful riders loved these awful R44s because they cannot fit into the 60 footers. They need the 75 footers' wide seats and roomy interiors to support these huge asses. I rode on an R32 (A) from Jay Street-MetroTech to Broad Channel last month and the one thing that ruined the ride was a whole bunch of fat people at each station trying to squeeze their way into an already packed train. Not including children under 13, I was the skinniest person aboard and literally pinned to front storm door. The good news, though, is that I had the railfan window all to myself and since there were huge people around me, I did not get knocked around when the train changed speed or rounded curves like I always do since I am so light.

 

The R44s did absolutely nothing to help the subway during the turbulent 70s and 80s like they were meant to because 75 footers proved to be a huge drawback for the system (the other 75 footers are starting to be as problematic as the R44s now). The once powerful St. Louis Car Company collapsed due to their defects and I knew they could not last 40 years in service. So glad they are retired and I hope to never see them in service, although watching them sitting around doing nothing at the Coney Island, Concourse, and 207th Street Yards while mother nature wears them away is a huge eyesore. Hurry up and scrap them already (same thing with the R32s that have been sitting at Coney Island and Fresh Pond Yards for over two years and the 14 R42s at Pitkin because they are no longer suitable for service)!

Edited by FlushingExpress

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The R44 is one of the few cars than can run with less equipment than other R types.Again The St.Louis Car company were losing out on every car they built and had substantial tooling losses.If the R44 was built maybe a decade later when the system wasnt in such decay in terms of maintenance,there could of been a chance the cars would still be in service.

 

No I don't know whos idea was it to put Carbon steel strips on the side,but I didnt help when it came time for those Acid baths which screwed up any car reguardless of build.Not to mention the sea water from the rockaways definitely did a number on the structures.Morrison-Knudsen,and the NYCTA shops did a fantastic job during the GOH,but the (MTA) should have maintained them better and should have removed the Carbon strip altogether.

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What is with Flushing Express and fat people? Some of the greatest people that ever lived were fat. One of my favorite musicians Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was obese in his life, and I don't ever say anything bad about his weight nor do I make fun of fat people. To make fun of fat people either implies you are fat yourself so you make fun of other fat people to feel better, or that you are so shallow that you must be a dried up lake bed.

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Guest lance25

There's no use in trying to find logic in the illogical. Just give it up guys and move on.

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From a riders standpoint, the R44s were phenomenal. They were the biggest impact trains I've experienced and yet to experience. Today's new techs and the R62/68 didn't touch them in bringing a fresh experience to the subway riding experience. They looked a bit like R42s from the front but the sides finally brought the "knee" look to the MTA. But the interiors were such a surprise. What seems dated now looked damned near luxurious then with the faux wood partitions and walls, wallpaper, and brightly colored seats that looked cheerful and modern then as well as their length and transverse seats. The real thing was the quietude. The R42s were substantially noisier. Also the smoothness. The R44s were so much more smoother than the R42s and predecessors, it was almost like being in a LIRR M1 which the train resembled. The R44 and sister R46s remain my favorite trains, even with all of their issues, due to just how different and pleasant they were to ride. Today's new tech, now going on 10 years old are cold and retro in comparison resembling R42s inside. They are smooth enough and are fine and are reliable, but they don't distinguish themselves any way like the R44 did when it was new.

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Not to be a hater i love all nyc subway cars but they are most uncomfortable worst riding cars i've ever been on aswell as it's younger brother.

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