Every time I get on Toronto's new subway cars that are interconnected, so that you can see and walk down the entire train, I smile. If it is crowded you can move to another part of the train that has a little more room; if it is empty, you get this glorious view, the endless perspective down the tube of the train. I like to stand on the transition point where it connects two cars; you feel the floor move under you as it goes around curves, so fun. ( I wrote about them earlier in Toronto's New Subway Trains Are A Different Kind of Ride)
And new, it appears that they are coming to New York City; according to Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan in Fast Company, the MTA has placed an order for 10 "open gangway " trains to see how they might work. They seem a no-brainer, with higher capacity, carrying 9% more people and probably more pigeons, and with more options for passengers.
Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic explains the many advantages:
One, they expand capacity by allowing riders to use the space that typically sits empty between cars. This added capacity means that a metro line can carry more people with trains of the same length. Two, it allows passengers to redistribute themselves throughout the train while the vehicle is moving, reducing problems associated with many people boarding in the same doorway, such as slow exiting times and poorly distributed standees. Three, it increases safety at times of low ridership by increasing the number of “eyes” in the train. There are no obvious downsides.
Well, there are a few; the panhandlers have the run of the full train. People like me are always pushing through to get at the right door to be opposite to and first up the exit stair, which might be at the other end of the train from where I got on. But that is pretty minor compared to the benefits. Freemark wonders what is holding American systems back:
I’m skeptical that this technology is just “not possible” on historic U.S. systems; it’s been adapted to too many places around the world in all sorts of conditions for that to be the case. But if the problem is that transit agency management simply doesn’t care enough to adjust their operational standards to respond to improvements that can be offered to passengers, well… it’s time to kick the bums out.
Where I live, Bombardier had to design the trains to make tight curves (and it is so much fun to look down the train when they take them). They certainly had teething problems, but appear to be running smoothly now. I can't imagine why anyone would do it any other way.