December 12, 2010

Photo Essay: MTA Vintage Subway Train Ride for the Holidays

Once again this year, New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority has blown the dust off of some of their vintage subway trains and buses - normally housed in the Transit Museum in Brooklyn - and has re-released them onto NYC's streets and subway tracks for commuters to enjoy.

I'd ridden a train from the classic R1/9 fleet down the A line from Times Square to the Rockaways over three years ago, so I knew to expect a typical crowd of older train and transit enthusiasts, native New Yorkers, and transit workers, as well as befuddled tourists and newbie straphangers.

Today's train took a relatively short route from Queens Plaza to Second Avenue-Lower East Side along the M line, and - unlike my express ride a few years ago - made all regularly-scheduled local stops along the way.

Still, the train careened through the tunnel under the East River, the longest stretch we had of non-stop locomotion.

Each of the eight cars of this particular train were actually slightly different, some with beige-colored rattan seats...

and others with red leather cushions.

Walking between the cars was even more of a challenge than on the modern subway trains - something I usually refuse to do. The train seems to be going so FAST, and while traversing its narrow spaces, you not only cross other passengers, but also conductors who lean out of either side to shout their announcements to those waiting on the platform.

I didn't expect the fanfare that awaited us at the train ride's terminus at Second Avenue: a swing band, dancers, and revelers of all sorts in period costumes.

Riding those old trains provides a commute worthy of roller coaster squeals and amusement park snacks. I may just do it again next Sunday.

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