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Transit Workers Given A Hero’s Welcome Through Canyon of Heroes

Updated July 7, 2021 11:30 p.m.
The MTA participates in the Hometown Heroes tickertape parade on Broadway on Wed., July 7, 2021, in honor of essential workers who weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. A vintage 1903-4 subway car #1273 from the New York Transit Museum and an articulated electric bus were featured.

Frontline Workers Honored in New York City’s “Hometown Heroes” Ticker Tape Parade to Thank Essential Workers for Their Sacrifice During the Pandemic 


Transit Workers Kept the City Moving Through Depths of Pandemic, and Now New Yorkers Through the City’s Recovery 


View Photos of Antique Train Car 1273 


View Photos of Hometown Heroes Parade 


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers got where they needed to go because of the heroic Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers. Today, on Wednesday, July 7, these heroes moving heroes were joined by many of the people they helped get to work, doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, restaurant workers and first responders, for a hero’s welcome at New York City’s “Hometown Heroes” ticker tape parade in Lower Manhattan. 

A group of 70 MTA workers participated in the parade announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 14, were featured in two MTA floats and  on City Hall’s essential workers float. The heroes cruised down the Canyon of Heroes as New Yorkers thanked them for all the work they did to get the city to the other side of the pandemic. The parade followed the traditional ticker tape parade route, beginning in Battery Park, and slowly proceeding through the Canyon of Heroes, up Broadway, towards City Hall. 

The floats chosen for this parade should resonate with New Yorkers as they symbolize the past and future of transit. One float featured Car 1273 of the New York Transit Museum’s Vintage Fleet. Car 1273 has been through two world wars, and now two pandemics, and is proof that even at the lowest moments of this city and the country, the subway is there. The second float points towards the future, a zero-emissions bus that represents where transit is headed coming out of this pandemic—towards a cleaner future and one where mass transit must be at the center of it. The common theme in past, present and future is that through it all, transit workers will lead the way and keep New York City moving. 

“The way  MTA employees responded to the pandemic should never be forgotten. Our colleagues helped carry essential workers and kept New York City moving through the darkest days of this crisis,” said Patrick Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO. "Each MTA employee has been a hero moving heroes, and today’s celebration through the Canyon of Heroes is a fitting recognition for the tremendous work and sacrifice they performed, to make today’s celebration possible.” 

“Capacity limits prevented us from having our 50,000-plus strong workforce in the parade, but make no mistake, each member of the NYC Transit family performed heroically throughout this pandemic and should be celebrated,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of NYC Transit. “The city kept moving because bus and train operators, cleaners, station agents, conductors all showed up day in and day out. They deserve to be celebrated in such emphatic fashion today, and quite frankly, every day.” 

“At the height the pandemic the bus system carried more essential trips than any other mode of transportation and our brave and dedicated Buses workforce was there to make that happen,” said Craig Cipriano, President of the MTA Bus Company and Senior Vice President, Department of Buses, New York City Transit. “The dedication and resolve of those heroes was truly inspiring and it was my honor to stand alongside them as they were given the proper thanks today.” 

“Navigating this pandemic was a team effort, and every member of LIRR should be proud of their work that helped New York stay safe,” said Phil Eng, President of Long Island Rail Road. “Our heroic frontline workers not only kept the railroad going, allowing fellow essential workers to get to their jobs but they continued to rebuild, improve and innovate.  Our customer communication and focus has never been stronger as we introduced industry-leading capacity tracking, which is empowering Long Islanders to control their commute like never before. Today is a great day to celebrate the heroic people behind these tremendous accomplishments that I have the privilege of seeing every day.”  

“As we emerge from this pandemic it is great to see the gratitude being shown towards our heroic employees,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of Metro-North Railroad. “Metro-North played a key role in ensuring that essential workers throughout the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and the Bronx were able to get to where they needed to go, and we will continue to proudly serve these regions as we bounce back.” 

“Over the last year our workforce rose to numerous challenges and has adjusted to a new normal every step of the way,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “I am honored to work alongside the Bridges and Tunnels team, and the full MTA family, who keep the City and region moving.” 

“We’re honored to provide Car 1273 for today’s parade up the Canyon of Heroes,” said Concetta Bencivenga, Director of New York Transit Museum. “While the car is an irreplaceable part of New York City’s transportation history, then as now, it is the men and women of New York City Transit who ensure that millions of people arrive safely at their destination and face the challenges of their day.” 

About the Floats 

Car 1273 

At 118 years of age, Car 1273 is one of the oldest cars in the New York Transit Museum’s Vintage Fleet. During 66 years of service, this car carried New Yorkers through two world wars and the 1917 global pandemic. It was modernized in 1938 to transport crowds to the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens and would serve out its remaining years in Queens, Manhattan and ultimately back to Brooklyn on the Myrtle Avenue El until it was retired from service in 1969. 

Car 1273 is one of 100 mostly-wooden vehicles ordered in 1902 by the BRT for its subsidiary, the Brooklyn Union Elevated Railroad. These were among the early motorized cars ordered after the BRT had electrified its elevated lines. While the steam locomotives used to haul elevated trains in Manhattan and Brooklyn produced smoke and soot, electric power was clean and economical. Electric motors increased the speed of service, created a smoother ride, and allowed for brightly lit and better heated car interiors. 

Despite being electrified, Car 1273, is similar in design to earlier elevated cars, known informally as “gate cars.” Passengers still entered and exited through open-air vestibules at the front and back of the cars.  A conductor manually opened and closed the metal gates and rang a ceiling-mounted bell when passengers were safely on board to signal the motorman to proceed. 

Zero-Emissions Bus 

The bus used in today’s route is part of the MTA’s first order of zero-emissions articulated buses, which flex in the middle with accordion-like joint. The order was delivered in October 2019 and consists of 15 buses  that are currently in service out of the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot in Midtown Manhattan. The fleet mainly operates on the M14 SBS route along the 14th Street busway. One bus has been outfitted with luggage racks and operates on the M60 SBS which takes riders from the west side of Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport in Queens.  

On May 25 the Authority announced it will be increasing its procurement for electric buses in 2021 from 45 to 60 – a 33% increase, and the latest step in the MTA’s ongoing mission to transform its 5,800 buses to a zero-emissions fleet by 2040. This 60 bus addition is an important first for the MTA:  it is a first set of fully owned 40-foot buses, first partnership with the New York Power Authority to install charging infrastructure, and the MTA’s first experience with in-depot overhead pantograph down-charging.  In addition, it will also be the Authority’s first partnership with Con Edison to add new power supply for electric buses. The MTA is very excited about this project and expect these buses to begin hitting the road in late 2022. These buses will be operating in each of the five boroughs.  

The zero-emissions fleet expansion was made possible by a 10 bus pilot lease program operating 2 fleets of 5 buses each from 2 manufacturers New Flyer and Proterra.  The Authority recently returned 5 buses back to New Flyer that began operating in January 2018 in Manhattan, on the M42 and M50 routes. The vehicles, manufactured by New Flyer, were the first ever zero-emissions buses to operate in MTA service and logged 90,000 miles in their 3-plus years of operation. The buses were designed to operate with regular top-up charging throughout the day and have relatively smaller 150kWh batteries that allow them to operate for 20-35 miles on a full charge. The buses used rapid on-route chargers installed at either end of the route: on the east side at FDR Drive and 41st Street and on the west side at 43rd Street and Pier 83. These on-route chargers will continue to support the MTA’s electric bus fleet.  

The remaining 5 pilot lease buses manufactured by Proterra will be returned by the end of 2021. The experience the MTA have gained and have shared with the manufacturers have been invaluable for the MTA as well as for bus manufacturers in refining the planning, procuring and specification process as we continue to expand the zero-emissions fleet.