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MTA to Retire 1960s-Era Subway Cars With Celebratory Final Runs

New York City Transit
Updated Dec 10, 2021 2:30 p.m.

New York City Transit to Retire R-32s After 58 Years of Service


Trains Will Run on the F, D and Q Lines in December and Early January


File Photos of R32 Train Cars are Available Here


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that after 58 years of service, the R-32s nicknamed the Brightliners – among the oldest subway cars to operate in the world – will officially retire from service. To commemorate the historic occasion of the train’s retirement and its unique car design, New York City Transit (NYCT) will be placing one R-32 train into service to operate on four consecutive Sundays in December and early January.

“As we continue the work to modernize the transit system and improve the customer experience, it is truly bittersweet to say farewell to a fleet of historic R-32 trains that have served New Yorkers for nearly six decades," said New York City Transit Interim President Craig Cipriano. “A significant amount of history goes along with these trains and we’re delighted that we are able to offer the opportunity to ride them one – or even a few – more times in their final days.”

“These historic trains have witnessed decades of change in this city getting riders to where they need to go to all corners of the city,” said New York City Transit Senior Vice President for Subways Demetrius Crichlow. “We are committed to improving the subway system by replacing aging infrastructure with a modern fleet of trains that fit the ever-changing needs of a bustling New York City. The retirement of these trains is just one part of that journey, and we hope that New Yorkers take advantage of these final runs of the R-32 before we say goodbye to them early next year.”

“We are delighted to help retire this iconic car class,” said Director of New York Transit Museum Concetta Bencivenga. “While this celebration is ‘End of the Year, End of an Era!’, it is also a testament to the Transit Museum’s ongoing recovery effort and hopefully the start of the return of our beloved nostalgia rides.”

Sundays, Dec. 19 and 26; and Jan. 2, 2022 R-32 Retirement Runs  

  • Departs 2nd Av Station on the line at 10:00a.m., 12:00p.m., 2:00p.m., and 4:00p.m., making all express stops to 145th St Station on the line 
  • Departs 145th St Station on the line at 11:00a.m., 1:00p.m., 3:00p.m., and 5:00p.m., making all express stops to the 2nd Ave Station on the line 

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 - Final Farewell to the R-32s 

To commemorate its final run, the cars will run on the original debut route from 1964, on the line (the then-BMT Brighton Line). 

  • Departs Brighton Beach on the line at 10:00a.m., 12:30pm, 3:00p.m., 5:30pm to 96th St, making express stops on the Brighton and Broadway Lines, via the Manhattan Bridge
  • Departs 96th St Station on the line at 11:00a.m., 1:30p.m., 4:00p.m., 6:30p.m. to Brighton Beach, making express stops on the Brighton and Broadway Lines, via the Manhattan Bridge 

About the R-32s 

The R-32s were the first large fleet of mass-produced stainless-steel cars purchased by NYCT, comprising a total of 600 cars. Built in Philadelphia by the Budd Company, they were nicknamed the Brightliners because of their washboard-like stainless steel exteriors. The first revenue train ran on Sep. 14, 1964 on what is today‘s line, and in recent years, they were mainly found on the , , , and lines. 

With a state-of-the-art design for its time, the Brightliners quickly became a crowd favorite and continues to be a nostalgic favorite to many. The cars introduced design elements unlike any of its predecessors, but one that the MTA has received inspiration from for its newest train cars. Notably, the R-32 cars are the last subway car class in service to have a front window that passengers can look out of.

The cars were featured in multiple blockbuster films including Bridge of Spies (2015), Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) and Joker (2019). Many R-32s were retired in the late 2000s, when the R-160 cars began filtering into the subway system. A large portion of these cars were sunk in the Atlantic Ocean as part of an artificial reef program.