NEW YORK (PIX11) — The Brightliners are on the way to the scrap heap.
The oldest subway cars in the NYC Transit system are also known as the R32s. They were first put in service in 1964. Riders appreciated the view from the front window, fiberglass seats, spacious interiors and a smoother ride.
New York New Jersey Rail, which is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is responsible for the cars’ next stop. From the rail yard in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the MTA releases the cars and they’re loaded onto barges.
“We are a floating railroad. It’s critical to get them off trucks and to something environmentally sound. The Environmental Protection Agency was created in the 1970s and there has been growth of truck traffic in the NYC area,” Donald Hutton, director of New York New Jersey Rail, said.
The rail facility moves other types of goods and commodities every day between Brooklyn and New Jersey. It’s an important connection that uses the waterway instead of roads, bridges and tunnels.
It is a 30-minute trip across the harbor to Greenville Yard in Jersey City, New Jersey. A long-haul freight carrier takes the old cars on to the last stop at a recycling plant in Ohio.
The models officially ended their run in 2020 with some ceremonial rides. The pandemic delayed some of the recycling process.
The R32s have been gradually decommissioned over the last two decades. Some were tested as potential reefs, but the cars’ design and type of metal didn’t hold up underwater.
At the New York Transit Museum, visitors can learn about older model cars known as Redbirds. They have held up well in the ocean as a habitat for marine life.