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Go inside the prototype for the NYC subway’s new open-gangway trains

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Pro: more information! Con: fewer seats!

For the next few days, commuters will get a chance to weigh in on a big change coming to the New York City subway: the fleet of new R-2-11 trains, which will be added to the MTA’s rolling stock in a few years.

A prototype of the car—which has an open gangway design, new digital displays, and fewer seats, among other changes—will be on view at the 34th St-Hudson Yards subway station until next Wednesday, giving New Yorkers the opportunity to see what these new cars will look like up close. But if you can’t make it out, photographer Scott Lynch toured the prototype—here’s what he saw.

Scott Lynch

The new cars, which are due to be rolled out on the subway’s lettered lines beginning in 2020, have some distinct advantages over the ones currently in use by the MTA. They have wider doorways—58 inches versus the current 50 inches—along with changes to the information that’s provided to commuters.

The strip maps in each car, which show the line’s next stops and transfer points at each one, will now also have details on how many minutes are left until each stop. There are also new displays that tell you what station you’re at, which subway (and bus!) transfers are at that stop, and even where staircases are on the subway platform.

But there are some potential drawbacks: Each car will have six fewer seats than the most recent models, and some will instead have the “leaning bars” that have been installed in refurbished MTA subway stations. It remains to be seen how effective other additions—such as signage on the floor directing passengers where to stand, or which seats are reserved for those with mobility issues—will ultimately be.

According to the MTA, the feedback gathered during this weeklong open house will be given to the Car Equipment Division of NYC Transit, which may then take it into account when the cars are being produced. You’ve got five more days to make your voice heard.

Tour the MTA's new open-gangway subway cars in Midtown this week [Curbed]