How to Recycle Old Subway Cars in New York

9:29 am  |  05.05.2021

We’re sure you’ve all heard that New York subway cars are being recycled at sea. First, they remove the equipment and all the hazardous materials and liquids, and then the already well-gutted profits are loaded onto a huge barge and shipped to the ocean. By now, New York has drowned more than 2,500 of its old priests. Let us look at their last journey.


Not all cars go down. Some are left for later use for official purposes and some are given to a transport museum or stored in a depot.

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The artificial reef program came into being when MTA faced the problem of recycling a large number of cars produced in the 1960s. Asbestos-containing materials were used in their production, making them economically unprofitable in the usual way. They were then drowned. Asbestos is thought to be harmful only in contact with air and in water it is thought to lose its dangerous properties. Not everyone agrees, but the government gave the go-ahead and the wagons were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.

Since the early 2000s, 2,580 cars have been recycled in this way.

There’s an artificial reef called the Redbird, 26 miles off the coast of Delaware. Redbird is the name of a series of New York City subway cars that were once painted dark red to fight graffiti. To create this reef, 714 wagons, 86 tanks and armoured vehicles, 8 tugboats and barges, and about 3,000 tons of wheels from trucks were flooded in a small area. In seven years, the fish population has quadrupled.

Stunning underwater view.

298 New Metro Cars Had to be Retired

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) retired 298 new subway cars due to faulty doors. This decision was made after two incidents in which no one was injured, said MTA President Andy Byford.

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The subway cars were supplied by Bombardier for $600 million. Byford promised to hold the manufacturer accountable for what happened. The Wall Street Journal recalls that the cars were delivered with a three-year delay due to other previously discovered problems. They were now temporarily replaced by existing cars, including the vintage R32 and R42, which had been in service since the 1960s and were already in preparation for decommissioning.

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A representative of Bombardier told the Canadian Press that the new cars had two doors that were malfunctioning because they had not been calibrated by the supplier. Now Bombardier is checking the other cars for possible debugging. To that end, the company decided to hire additional employees to continue the work around the clock. MTA asked a third-party company to supervise these checks, Byford said.

The Chinese Nanjing Kangni Mechanical & Electrical Co. Its representative told WSJ that the company was working with Bombardier and MTA to solve the problem.


New York City Treasurer Scott Stringer blamed MTA for these overlaps. He recalled that a recent audit had revealed management’s inability to meet deadlines and other conditions of contracts with suppliers, technical failures and other structural problems. An audit of the contract with Bombardier, conducted in December, even before the history of the new cars, revealed that a three-year delay in delivery cost taxpayers millions more.

Interesting Facts About the World’s Largest Subway

Fact 1. Subway New York transports about 4.4 million people every day. It is second only to Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow and Seoul.

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Fact 2. Celebrities, including the mayor, are often involved in recording information for passengers and announcing station names.

Fact 3. Metropolitan sponsors project «Music under New York». This allows street musicians to perform at subway stations. They make a special selection and have about 150 performances every week at stations all over the city.

Fact 4. Many New York subway cars are air-conditioned. The first were installed in 1960.

Fact 5. Metro is huge, and as areas change, so does the population. For example, there are routes mostly used by black people (inner parts of Brooklyn and Harlem).

Fact 6. There are abandoned stations in the subway. The most popular and beautiful of them is «City Hall». The station was one of the first to open (in 1904), but eventually, it was closed due to a number of technical inconsistencies with new types of cars: the platform is too short and curved. However, it is possible to look at the station, as the train passes it on the way to the stop «Brooklyn Bridge».

READ: The City Under the Earth: The History of the New York Subway

Fact 7. If you line up all of New York City’s subways in one line, it’s all the way to Chicago.

Fact 8. Ball-shaped bulbs are installed at the entrance to the metro. The red lights mean that the station is open 24 hours a day, and the green lights mean that the station has a certain schedule.

Fact 9. It is a crime to put your feet in the seat. You may not just write a ticket, but even arrest them.

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Fact 10. The worst accident in the history of the New York City subway occurred in 1918. The driver lost control of the train entering the tunnel. Ninety-seven passengers were killed and more than 200 injured.

Fact 11. Due to the popularity of the book and the movie-thriller «Dangerous passengers of the train 123» dispatchers do not put trains from the station Pelham Bay Park time of departure 1:23.

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