The R42 is a New York City Subway car model built between 1969 and 1970 by the St. Louis Car Company in St. Louis, Missouri, serving the B Division (IND/BMT). It was the last 60-foot (18.29 m) B Division car built for the New York City Subway until the R143 in 2001, and the last car model class to be built in married pairs.

Background Edit

On May 9, 1969, cars 4550-4557 entered passenger service, and by January 5, 1970, all R42s were in passenger service. The R42 is basically the modified version of the previous R40 car model. The R42 fleet is numbered 4550-4949.

History Edit


In 1974, cars 4650-4659 and 4760-4769 were sent to Garrett AiResearch's facilities in Los Angeles, California to test out Flywheel Energy Storage System equipment. The even-numbered cars received energy conservation machinery with batteries and amber-type digital readouts indicating the amount of energy used by the equipment, while the odd-numbered cars remained untouched. These cars were later tested at the UMTA, and the US Department of Transportation's Testing Facilities in Pueblo, Colorado for evaluation, and were returned to the MTA in 1976 for in-service testing on all BMT/IND Lines to check the effectiveness of the technology.

In 1977, pantograph gates, salvaged from retired R1 through R9 cars, were modified and then installed on the front ends of the R42s, and baloney coiled spring type inter car safety barriers were installed on the blind ends of the married pairs.

Initial plans for retirement and preservationEdit

The R160s replaced most R42s in the late-2000s. They were intended to replace the entire fleet, but this has been halted due to structural issues found on the R44s that prematurely led to those cars' retirement. All but 48 cars of the R42 fleet were retired, and most were stripped and sunk as artificial reefs. After retirement, some R42 cars were saved for various purposes throughout the New York City Subway system, including:

  • 4550-4551 - preserved, repainted, and set aside for the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. This set was used in the famous chase scene in the film The French Connection. The cars have been used on several recent NYCTM fan trips, including the BMT 100th Anniversary special, specifically as a part of the Train of Many Metals.
  • 4552-4553 - preserved by the Railway Preservation Corp. The pair is stored at the Coney Island Yard in Brooklyn and has seen some light cosmetic work.
  • 4554-4555 - donated to East New York's Transit Technology High School on April 14, 2009, replacing R30 car 8337, which was reefed a few months later.

Prolonged serviceEdit

The 48 cars still in service—4556-4603—are assigned to the East New York shop facility near the Broadway Junction station in Brooklyn and run on the J / Z.

The R42s are 48 years old and the second oldest subway cars in service, behind the R32s built in 1964-1965. These cars were expected to be replaced by the R179 order starting at least in 2016. However, as of July 2015, no retirement date has been set at the moment due to numerous delays in the delivery of their R179 replacement cars, along with a previously unanticipated fleet expansion necessitated by the renovation of the L train's East River tube. Ten additional cars numbered 4604-4613, maintained at the 36th-38th Street Yard in Sunset Park of Brooklyn, were taken out of revenue service in December 2009 and are now used for work service.