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110 Years of the Subway
NYC Transit Celebrates the 110th Anniversary of the Subway System

Nostalic Train
Yesterday’s trains now arriving on the express track
Experience a Historic Train Ride

Let’s all go out and take a train ride on board one of MTA New York City Transit’s Nostalgia Trains in honor of the subway’s 110th year of operation!  New York City’s subway system first opened on October 27, 1904 and this season we are giving riders a two-day opportunity to take a trip back into the past.

On Sunday, October 26, two vintage subway trains will run in express service along the Broadway Line between 96th Street and Times Square – 42 Street.  Cars on the two trains represent examples of IRT equipment which operated between 1915 and 2001, carrying customers from the Bronx to Brooklyn.

The earliest example is a four-car train of Lo-V (Low-Voltage) subway cars, which ran in service for more than five decades before they were retired in the late 1960s.  They currently serve as a splendid illustration of just how far rapid-transit car design and technology has advanced over the past 110 years.  The train’s rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop sash windows were all common fittings during the early decades of subway travel in New York.

The Lo-Vs were named for a newly-developed control that didn’t rely directly on the 625 volts DC produced by the third rail to operate, but used a stepped-down voltage relayed from a series of batteries, fed from the third rail.  The “new technology” set up simplified control wiring and significantly reduced the possibility of accidental electrocutions to employees who had to hand-connect trainlines when they coupled the cars in the yards.

The second train is made up of R 33 and R36-type subway cars that began service in the early 1960s and remained in operation until 2001.  With the introduction of the IRT’s first order of New Technology cars, these SMEE (named for a new, more efficient braking system) cars were retired. 

IRT "SMEE" cars entered service between 1948 and 1964, allowing the retirement of cars dating back to the opening of the subway.  The last versions were the so-called "Redbird" cars, familiar to all New Yorkers.  The IRT had nearly 2,900 SMEE cars which were all compatible, though their appearances differed from class to class.  In the late 1980s, the subway fleet was overhauled and riders no longer saw trains made up of various car classes painted in varying liveries. 

Dubbed “The Train of Many Colors”, it is representative of several IRT paint schemes, including the MTA silvermist and blue, the Redbirds, the blue and cream World’s Fair cars and even a green version.  The train will consist of four silver and blue, one experimental green coupled to a redbird, a pair of fire-engine red and the last two redbirds to be removed from service.

Sunday, October 26
Beginning at 12 noon and running until 5 pm, both the IRT Lo-V train and the Train of Many Colors will operate between 96th Street and Times Square - 42 Street, making express stops only.  Both trains will leave from opposite ends at every half hour.  The schedule calls for the Lo-V train to leave Times Square at Noon, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 pm.  The Lo-V train would leave 96th Street at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 pm.

The Train of Many Colors would leave 96th Street at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 pm. and Times Square at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 pm.

Monday, October 27, 2014
The Lo-Vs return to service on the anniversary, operating between 11 am and 3 pm, on the hour from Times Square, making express stops only, to 96th Street.   Leaving Times Square, the schedule calls for departures at 11:00 am, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm Leaving 96th Street, the train would depart at 11:30am, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 pm.

New Yorkers bear fond memories of these vintage subway cars, some of which of are usually housed at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights, where they have honored positions as static displays reflecting a time before automated voice announcements, air conditioning or bright fluorescent lighting. 

Of course, you can always catch more vintage trains on display there. 


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