The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will retire the R-32s metro trains (the so-called Brightliners) after 58 years of service. To commemorate the historic occasion, New York City Transit (NYCT) run one R-32 train for a ceremonial last ride on January 9.
“As we continue the work to modernise the transit system and improve the customer experience, it is truly bittersweet to say farewell to a fleet of historic R-32 trains that have served New Yorkers for nearly six decades,” New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano said.
The retirement of these metro cars is part of city’s commitment to replace the aging infrastructure and the train fleet with new and modern vehicles.
“We are committed to improving the metro system by replacing aging infrastructure with a modern fleet of trains that fit the ever-changing needs of a bustling New York City. The retirement of these trains is just one part of that journey, and we hope that New Yorkers take advantage of this final run of the R-32 before we say goodbye to them this weekend,” New York City Transit Senior Vice President for Subways Demetrius Crichlow said.
The R-32s metro trains were the first large fleet of mass-produced stainless-steel cars purchased by NYCT, comprising a total of 600 cars. Built in Philadelphia by the Budd Company, they were nicknamed the Brightliners because of their washboard-like stainless steel exteriors. The first revenue train ran in September 1964 on the Q line, and in recent years, they were mainly operated on the A, C, J and Z lines.
With a state-of-the-art design for its time, the Brightliners introduced design elements unlike any of its predecessors, but one that the MTA has received inspiration from for its newest train cars. Notably, the R-32 vehicles are the last metro car class in service to have a front window that passengers can look out of.
Many R-32s were retired in the late 2000s, when the R-160 cars began filtering into the metro system. A large number of these metro cars were sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as part of an artificial reef programme.