A new European-style train hit the Big Apple subway system Thursday — but some straphangers were ready to close the door on the experimental cars’ “open gangway” design.
The first passengers were enamored with the shiny C-line cars’ bright lights and digital screens, but divided over the cutting-edge accordion layout as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled the biggest change to the transit system in a generation.
“It’s really smart to have it open like this,” straphanger Keisha Rodriguez said Thursday of the setup, laid out with thefirst five and last five trains cars linked together like accordion buses.
Rodriguez was one of about half of the riders on the new trains that told The Post the layout made them feel safer — they could see the entire train and quickly switch cars if there was a problem.
But the other half said it made them feel more vulnerable. The metal doors were like a barrier that kept the homeless and mentally ill from the car in which they rode, they said.
That won’t be the case now.
“My one concern, in fact, is the homeless,” Justin Chevere, 19, told The Post. “When they’re in one car, it’s limited to that one car. Since this train’s open, you can’t really do that.”
Most gave a big thumbs-up to the digital bells and whistles adorning the cars, including the brighter lights, updated screens and wider doors that make boarding easier for the disabled and those with strollers. The doors are wrapped in new light bars that flash red as they slide closed.
The train put into service Thursday is one of two the MTA bought in 2018 to test out the “open gangway” concept in New York.
The pair were delivered in 2023 and have undergone months of testing across the letter lines underground before their official commissioning.
Officials tucked the experimental model into a much larger $3 billion order of trains that will allow them to finally replace the orange and brown-clad models that date back to the 1970s — and are among the most unreliable in the system.
The remainder of the trains in the order feature the more traditional closed-doors at the end of each car.
Compared to those, this new R211T model looked like a spaceship.
“I’m just used to the dirty subway,” Ian Myers, a regular C train passenger, told The Post.
The new train? It’s “much better,” he said.
Officials have pushed for the experiment for years, arguing the design — which is commonly found in London and Paris — will give riders space to spread out, make it easier for disabled New Yorkers and those with strollers to find a seat and improve passenger safety through better lines of sight and the new security cameras.
The enclosed gangways also have other benefits, such as keeping people from hopping out without conductors noticing — potentially putting a dent in the subway surfing epidemic that’s already killed one teenager this year.
On Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul called the trains “the future of transportation in motion.
“The subway is roaring back,” she told reporters as she stood in the accordion that linked two cars together, just before the inaugural ride rumbled out of the 168th Street station in Washington Heights.
“We want to make sure that the good feelings, the good times, keep rolling,” she continued. “And that’s what we’re doing by launching these new cars on the C train.”
“The bottom line is the subway keeps the city moving. I can’t imagine this city without it, it would not be as vibrant,” she added. “It would not be as fast-paced. It would not be New York City. Our entire region’s economy depends on it.”
The agency has also added another 800 new train and station cleaners to its payroll — meaning the gleaming cars will hopefully stay that way.
But for now, passengers just enjoyed the ride.
“I like that it’s open,” Lahana Deering told The Post. “It’s cool. It feels like I’m on a train.”