MTA Retires Subway-Car Model in Service Since 1969

last run r42 train
The final run of the R-42 A train Hammels Wye in the Rockaways, Wednesday.
(Marc A. Hermann/MTA NYCT)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is retiring the R-42 model subway car, which had been in service since 1969.

The final run followed a send-off ceremony Wednesday at the New York Transit Museum. The trip, on the A line, went from Euclid Av in Brooklyn to Far Rockaway and then to 207 St in Manhattan, before returning to Euclid Av. MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye, NYC Transit President Andy Byford, and subway enthusiasts participated in the final ride.

“These cars have served the MTA well as a reliable fleet over the last 50 years,” said Sally Librera, Senior Vice President, Department of Subways for New York City Transit. “As technology advances, we’re looking to modernize our fleet of subway cars to best serve New Yorkers.”

last run r42 train
Interior of an R-42 car. (r GeneralPunger)

The cars that took their last ride Wednesday traveled an average of 400 miles a day.

Two R-42 cars will remain at the Transit Museum, “where they will be used to educate the public about the city’s mass transportation history, and visitors will get the chance to come aboard and travel back in time,” said Transit Museum Director Concetta Bencivenga.

The R-42’s were the first cars to arrive in service completely air-conditioned, and the last car type to be designed as “married pairs,” meaning every two cars are semi-permanently linked together in order to reduce the number of components that are required to operate a train.


last run r42 train
Interior of an R-32 car, which are still running on the A and C lines. (GeneralPunger)

The R-42 cars were used on over a dozen lines throughout their lifetime. The R-42 and R-32 are the only post-war cars to reach the 50-year service mark. The R-32 began operating in 1964 and is still in use on the A and C lines.

A majority of the R-42 fleet was retired between 2006 and 2009, and most of those cars were submerged in the Atlantic Ocean to form artificial reefs. After the reefing program ended in April 2010, retired R-42s were sent for scrap metal.

Most R-42 cars are being replaced by R-160’s. The others will be replaced by R-179’s, the newest subway car, and the upcoming R-211’s.

last run r42 train
A new R-179 car. (Mtattrain)

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