New York Today: Seatless Subway Cars – New York Times

Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2017


Inviting, isn’t it?

Harrison Hill/The New York Times

Updated, 8:16 a.m.

Good morning on this cloudy Thursday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently released its roughly $800 million plan to fix our beleaguered subway system.

Among the proposals: seatless subway cars.

That’s right. To accommodate more passengers, subway officials will remove seats from a few trains on certain lines, possibly later this year, starting with a pilot program on the L train between Brooklyn and Manhattan and the shuttle train between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal.

The prospect of losing seats encouraged us to visit the New York Transit Museum to understand the evolution of the seats inside New York’s subway, and to sit in them, too.

In the early 1900s, wooden armrests lined springy, cushioned seats covered with rattan, a material similar to bamboo. Sitting in the bench-length seat — with its surprising lumbar support — was like sinking into a well-worn rocker, musty smell and all.

In 1915, riders were treated to new drop-down cushioned seating, or benches that could be lifted up on crowded trains.

Continue reading the main story

By the 1950s, the rattan on many seats was replaced with Velon, a type of plastic fabric, and in terms of comfort, it was mostly downhill from there.

It wasn’t until 1972 that New York City Transit began running cars on the lettered lines with plastic contoured seats, similar to what you sit on today.

This isn’t the first time that seatless train cars have been proposed.

In 2010, flip-up seats that could be locked upright during rush hours were installed on the E train, but the pilot program was eventually canceled.

If the prospect of disappearing subway seats leaves you sentimental, you could always buy one as a keepsake.

The transportation authority sells subway memorabilia, when it becomes available. Among the station signs, fixtures and vintage tokens for sale is an authentic gray “priority seating” subway seat plucked from a train that once ran on the C and J lines. Its price: $500.

Here’s what else is happening:


{{= temp }}°{{= temp_unit }}
{{= c_high }}°
{{= c_low }}°

{{= t_high }}°
{{= t_low }}°
View 5-Day Forecast

The rest of the week is looking down, as far as weather goes.

Clouds will cover our skyscrapers today, with thunderstorms and showers possible this evening. And whatever rain we’re able to dodge tonight should make a statement — in a bigger way — tomorrow.


Today’s high will hover near 81.

In the News

As Democrats lay into President Trump, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo takes a slightly different route — a strategy some see as a nod to re-election prospects. [New York Times]

Sanny Liu, the widow of the slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu, gave birth to their child, two years after his death. [New York Times]


Sanny Liu gave birth to a daughter, Angelina, in Manhattan on Tuesday.

New York Police Department

A Rikers Island inmate who slipped away from several guards and disappeared on Wednesday night was found early this morning. [New York Times]

Some M.T.A. board members are pushing back against plans to raise fares. [New York Times]

The death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court, has been ruled a suicide. [New York Times]


Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found dead in the Hudson River in April.

Mike Groll/Associated Press

“The People’s Guide to Power,” a new WNYC series running through local elections in November, explores how government works in our region. [WNYC]

An affiliate of a costume shop has bought its East Village space for nearly $25 million. [The Real Deal]

Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Fender Bender Coming Off the George Washington Bridge

Scoreboard: Yankees paint the Reds, 9-5. Padres punish Mets, 6-3.

For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Thursday Briefing.

Coming Up Today

Broadway actors from “A Bronx Tale,” “Anastasia: Home at Last,” “Avenue Q,” and “The Imbible” perform at Byrant Park in Midtown. 12:30 p.m. [Free]

Fishing, live music, drinks and barbecue at the Audubon Center at the Boathouse in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 6 p.m. [$25, includes food and drink]

The author and former C.I.A. senior analyst Melvin A. Goodman presents his book, “Whistleblower at the CIA: An Insider’s Account of the Politics of Intelligence,” at the Mid-Manhattan Library in Midtown. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

Theater performances staged with alternative light sources, part of Dark Fest, at The Tank in Midtown. First performance at 7 p.m. [Tickets start at $10]

Yankees host Rays, 7:05 p.m. (YES). Mets at Padres, 9:10 p.m. (SNY).

Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Aug. 15.

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

And Finally…


A subway seat from the 1950s at the New York Transit Museum.

Harrison Hill/The New York Times

More than 250 readers weighed in on our coverage of the transportation authority’s plan to resolve subway issues, specifically on the removal of seats on some cars.

Several readers offered humorous, less practical solutions. Most simply complained.

Here’s a selection:

“Fewer seats is a solution? Why not just strap us on to the top of the cars and tell us to hold on for dear life?”

Mitchell Feinman, 63, Hell’s Kitchen

“Removing seats is a horrible and inhumane idea. There are many elderly people, pregnant women, people with back and foot injuries, and just exhausted people who have to ride the train for over an hour just to get to work and they need those few seats.”

— Angie Wojak, 49, Inwood

“I have, more frequently than I want to acknowledge, heard a number of parents who say to their children, ‘Here you sit down.’ And I’m so old that I still remember the campaign that they desperately need to bring back, ‘Little enough to ride for free? Little enough to ride your knee.’”

— Ellen Fuhrer Salomon, 63, Armonk, N.Y.

“Removing seats caters to higher-income riders and tourists who take shorter rides or don’t ride often. For the rest of us who spend over an hour per day on the subway, we need them to fix the signals to permit more trains to run more often and more dependably. Everyone taking a long ride on a train should be able to sit, relax, read a book or newspaper, etc. It is an important quality-of-life issue.”

— Michele W. Miller, Washington Heights

New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

For updates throughout the day, like us on Facebook.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Alexandra Levine and Jonathan Wolfe, on Twitter.

You can find the latest New York Today at

Continue reading the main story


Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*