New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) resumed full subway and bus service on 8 June as the city entered ‘Phase 1’ of its reopening after a mandated COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The authority still called for only key worker travel and essential journeys to be made, and that face masks would be provided to passengers. While their use is mandatory, MTA staff and the city’s police would not support detainment of those who did not comply.
Just days before the reintroduction of full services, the MTA pulled its entire fleet of R179 subway cars out of service as it investigated an incident in which a train became separated between the sixth and seventh cars of a ten-car train at Chambers Street Station on an A train service on 3 June. No injuries were reported.
This is the latest in a series of issues with the Bombardier-built trains, with 298 cars removed from service earlier this year over safety concerns involving the new vehicles’ door locking mechanisms. Interim NYCT President Sarah Feinberg said in a statement: “This marks the latest unacceptable issue with one of Bombardier’s R179 cars. Customer and employee safety is New York City Transit’s North Star. We will not compromise one inch on safety. We will not return the fleet to service without certainty and validation that all cars are fit for passenger service – period.”
In a statement, Bombardier said: “We are working with New York City Transit and Wabtec, the supplier of the link bar between the cars, to conduct a detailed analysis and to implement an inspection plan for the entire R179 fleet. We will reserve additional comments until the results of these actions are known. We share New York City Transit’s highest concern for passenger safety and are treating this incident with the urgency and attention it requires.”