The R46 is a New York City Subway car model built from 1975 to 1978 by the Pullman Standard in Chicago, Illinois for the IND/BMT B Division. Along with the previous R44s, the R46s are 75 feet (22.86 m) long.
The R46 order consisted of 188 four-car sets, meaning a total of 752 cars, and are numbered 5482 to 6258. The cars costed about $285,000 each. The first two trains of R46s were placed in service on the F and N in July 14, 1975, with a brief ceremony at 34th Street–Herald Square, attended by Mayor Abraham Beame and MTA Chairman David Yunich. The fleet is infamous for having had frequent problems in the first decade of service, but the Scheduled Maintenance System (SMS) program from 1989 to 1992 provided solutions to the fleet's many problems.
The R46s were constructed with dark spotted hard floors, orange/yellow bucket seats, fluorescent lighting, spaces for ceiling advertisements and the use of air springs instead of heavy metal springs. The change in springs reduced noisy and bumpy rides. The cars were not equipped with straphangers like previous models. Instead, horizontal bars that passengers could hold on to were installed. The cars were also built with air-conditioning.
Currently, the cars maintained at the Pitkin Avenue shop facility in East New York, Brooklyn run on the A, C, and Rockaway Park Shuttle, and the cars maintained at the Jamaica shop facility in Kew Gardens, Queens run on the F and R.
On April 7, 1972, Pullman Standard bid on the contract for 900 subway cars and it was the highest bidder. It put out a bid of $273,000 per car, or $246 million for the entire contract. Other bidders included General Electric, Rohr Industries, and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The cars were to be constructed almost identically to the R44s. Once the order was awarded to Pullman Standard, the cars were constructed at the company's shops on the South Side of Chicago. The subway car order was the largest single order of passenger cars in United States railroad history at the point of the fleet's completion. Once the order was reduced to 752 cars, the entire cost of the order was reduced to $210.5 million. The first cars were expected to be testing in the NYC Subway by October 1973, and all of the cars were expected to be delivered by October 15, 1975. However, because there was a strike at the Pullman Standard on October 1, 1977, along with other problems, the final R46s entered service in December 1978, three years behind schedule.
Manufacturing problems and incidentsEdit
In March 1977, there was a crack found in the frame of one of the lightweight Rockwell trucks, which resulted in a motor breaking loose from the trucks transom arms, striking an axle. By 1978, cracks were found in 264 R46 trucks. Because of these problems, all R46s had to be checked three times per week for truck cracks. In February 1978, 889 cracks were found in 547 of the trucks. The cracking was such a bad problem, that on June 14, 1979, New York City Mayor Koch ordered R46s with trucks that had 2 or more cracks out of service. Then, more than 1,200 cracks had been found by that day and they were classified into seven types. There was an account that called the R46s "the most troubled cars ever purchased". By this time, the number of cracks had almost doubled, from 889 cracks found in February 1979 to 1,700 in March 1980. In order to keep track of the R46s' structural issues, they were inspected several times a week. In September 1980, two types of cracks that were not seen before were found on the trucks. As a result, the NYCTA tried to minimize usage of the R46 fleet, until their trucks were replaced with new R44 type standard trucks ordered from General Steel and Buckeye Industries.
In July 1979, Pullman Standard informed the MTA that the hand brake assemblies for the R46 were problematic. In late July 1979, inspections revealed that the steel where the car body was joined to the truck was wearing away, a severe safety issue. At the end of 1979, many other flaws were discovered in the R46 fleet, and the Transit Authority filed another US$80 million charge against Pullman Standard and a number of other subcontractors. This lawsuit invalidated an agreement made with Pullman by executive director John G. DeRoos for US$1.5 million in spare parts to remedy the defects.
The R46s are planned to be replaced by the R211s beginning in the mid-2020s. The MTA has been maintaining the R46s through the aforementioned Scheduled Maintenance System (SMS) program, which consists of repainting their exteriors, rebuilding trucks, repainting damaged seats, and other minor interior work on a set schedule in order to extend useful service life until their retirement.
See also Edit
- R44 (New York City Subway car) - a similar model built by St. Louis Car Company.