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New Yorkers! Here's a sneak preview of your new transit experience...

Posted by Luke Upton on Jul 19, 2016

SUBWAY CARS Exterior Design (New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)The New York City Subway hasn’t had the best couple of years, it has struggled to keep pace with its increasing volume of passengers, whilst its signalling system is slowly being overhauled and dragged into the 21st century. This is not to mention the sometimes dismal interiors in stations, security concerns, funding battles or the battering it received from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

So New Yorkers and millions of its annual visitors will welcome the unveiling from state Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of the design features of 1,025 new and reimagined subway cars – including enhancements to the exteriors and interiors of regular cars, wider doors, as well as the addition of up to 750 “Open Car End” designed-cars, that aim to reduce wait times and increase capacity. The Governor also previewed key elements that will be featured in the renovation of 31 subway stations throughout the New York Metropolitan Area, and announced that the first of several Requests for Proposals will be issued this week.

The MTA is using design-build contracts to expedite the process and ensure the shortest timeframe for project completion. These vital investments are part of the $27 billion, five-year MTA Capital Program to renew and expand the MTA network. Governor Cuomo ( @NYGovCuomo ) unveiled the ambitious design-plan at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

For more on transit innovation in the USA and to hear from agencies including LA Metro, WMATA, NYCT, CATS, Amtrak, BART and many more SmartTansit 2016 is taking place in October in New Jersey

“New York deserves a world-class transportation network, worthy of its role as the heartbeat of the 21st century economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “The MTA design team developed a bold and visionary reimagining of the quintessential commuter experience, incorporating best practices from global transit systems, and focusing on our core mission to renew, enhance and expand. We are going to do more than renovate – we are bringing subway stations to a higher standard than ever before, and the new vision for subway cars will increase capacity and reduce overcrowding and delays. I congratulate the MTA for thinking creatively and working with the kind of passion and urgency it takes to move this state forward.”

SUBWAY CARS Interior Design (New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)

“The Governor gave the MTA a mandate to implement new, world-class designs as quickly as possible for all new subway cars and that’s what you’re seeing today – innovation making the lives and commutes of all New Yorkers easier,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said. “Coupled with new methods for redeveloping our stations at the Governor’s direction, customers will see us get in, get done, and return new and improved stations to them in the most efficient way possible.”

Putting Public Transport at the Heart of Tomorrow's Smart Cities.

Reimagined and Enhanced Subway Cars

Later this week, the MTA ( @MTA ) will issue an RFP for the construction of 1,025 new subway cars, which will highlight that the timeline of design and production, as well as cost-effectiveness, will be central factors in awarding the contract.

The RFP will also emphasize the need to align with MTA design guidelines, which were established after a review of best practices in a number of major metropolitan areas from around the world, and identified several key elements for use in the New York system, including:

  • Open Car End Design: The MTA anticipates that out of 1,025 new cars, up to 750 will feature an Open Car End designed. The Open Car End design replaces the door between cars with an accordion-like connector in order to create longer, open spaces, allowing for greater passenger flow movement and increasing capacity in the process. These cars have become an international standard: in London 31 percent of cars will be Open Car End by the end of the year; in Paris the figure climbs to 37 percent; and in Toronto to 56 percent.
  • Wider Doors: The door width of the new cars will be expanded from the current MTA standard of 50 inches to 58 inches. Wider subway doors can reduce delays by allowing customers to enter and exit more quickly, and have become an international standard. According to a computer simulation of passenger flow conducted on behalf of the MTA, in crowded scenarios wider doors can reduce a train’s ‘dwell time’ in the station by 32 percent.
  • Customer Amenities & Security: The interior of new cars will also feature a host of new amenities, including WiFi, USB chargers, full color digital customer information displays, digital advertisements, illuminated door opening alerts and security cameras to promote passenger safety.
  • Exterior Features: Design elements for the exterior of the new subway cars include a new blue front with large windows, LED headlights, and a blue stripe with gold accents along the sides.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION Enhanced Station Initiative ((New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)

Improved Subway Stations

The announcement highlighted key elements of the Governor’s initiative to create a new and improved design standard for subway stations, and undertake extensive renovations at 31 stations from across the five boroughs. The 31 stations included in the program build upon a larger campaign, designed to improve the customer experience, and includes component and renewal work at more than 170 other stations. Design elements include:

  • Enhanced lighting throughout the stations;
  • Improved signage to make it easier for customers to navigate stations, including digital, real-time updates on on-time performance at subway entrances, before customers even enter the station;
  • Inclusion of amenities, such as count down clocks, improved cellular connectivity, Wi-Fi and new art; and
  • Renovations will also consider the architectural legacy of each station, and remain sensitive to historical elements as the stations undergo redesign.

 ENTRANCE CANOPIES Enhanced Station Initiative ((New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)

Key elements for each station type include:




Street Level Entrance Canopy and Totem

Street Level Entrance Canopy and Totem

Street Level Entrance Canopy and Totem

Control Area Dashboard

Control Area Dashboard

Control Area Dashboard

Transparent Windscreens

Glass or Mesh Fare Array

Glass or Mesh Fare Array

LED Light Fixtures Throughout

LED Light Fixtures Throughout

LED Light Fixtures Throughout

Furniture with Integrated Charging Stations

Furniture with Integrated Charging Stations

Furniture with Integrated Charging Stations

Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art

 IMPROVED WAYFINDING Enhanced Station Initiative (New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)


At the direction of the Governor, the MTA is using design-build contracts for all 31 stations. Design-build contracts call for a single team to be responsible for the design and construction of an entire project in order to ensure that coordination is seamless, and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame.

President of NYC Transit, Veronique (Ronnie) Hakim, said, “With design-build contracts, one team is responsible for both design and construction of the station. From a construction perspective, that means that there’s a seamless connection between various phases of a project, enabling the contractors to limit miscommunications, and speed the completion of the project. From the perspective of our customers, it means that they get a completely renovated station that is brighter, better, and more functional in the shortest possible time frame.”

ENHANCED INFORMATION AT CONTROL AREA Enhanced Station Initiative (New York City Transit/Governor Andrew Cuomo)

Design Consultants

The MTA worked with distinguished and world-renowned design consultants, who hold extensive international design expertise in train and transit facilities, for its new rolling stock and station enhancements. The lead designer, Antenna Design, and engineering consultant, CH2M, have created the new subway car design. Lead designers, Grimshaw Architects, and Arup, program managers – both with offices in London and New York – spearheaded the stations’ initiative.

With such a major project now underway, SmartRail World will be sure to keep our readers up to date with the latest developments! 

For more on transit innovation in the USA and to hear from agencies including LA Metro, WMATA, NYCT, CATS, Amtrak, BART and many more SmartTansit 2016 (October 25-26th, New Jersey) is a must attend event for you. Click here to find out more. and book your place to join 400+ fellow rail pros attendees.

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Topics: projects, smartcities

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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