Good morning on this cloudy Thursday.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently released its roughly $800 million plan to fix our beleaguered subway system.
Among the plan’s measures: seatless subway cars.
That’s right. Subway officials will remove seats from a few trains on certain lines — starting with a pilot program on the L train between Brooklyn and Manhattan and the shuttle train between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal — possibly later this year, to accommodate more passengers.
The thought of losing seats encouraged us to visit the New York Transit Museum to understand the evolution of the seats inside New York’s subway, and to sit in them, too.
In the early 1900s, wooden armrests lined springy, cushioned seats covered with rattan, a material similar to bamboo. Sitting in the bench-length seat — with its surprising lumbar support — was like sinking into a well-worn rocker, musty smell and all.
In 1915, riders were treated to new drop-down cushioned seating, or benches that could be lifted up if a train were crowded.
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By the 1950s, the rattan on many seats was replaced with Velon, a type of plastic fabric, and in terms of comfort, it was mostly downhill from there.
It wasn’t until 1972 that New York City Transit began running cars on the lettered lines with plastic contoured seats, similar to what you sit on today.
We’d also like to point out that this week’s announcement isn’t the first time that seatless train cars have been proposed.
In 2010, flip-up seats that could be locked upright during rush hours were installed on the E train, but the pilot program was eventually canceled.
If the prospect of disappearing subway seats leaves you sentimental, you could always buy one as a keepsake.
The transportation authority sells subway memorabilia, when it becomes available. Among the station signs, fixtures and vintage tokens for sale is an authentic gray “priority seating” subway seat plucked from a train that once ran on the C and J lines. It’s price: $500.
Here’s what else is happening:
The rest of the week is looking down, as far as weather goes.
Clouds will cover our skyscrapers today, with thunderstorms and showers possible this evening. And whatever rain we’re able to dodge tonight should make a statement — in a bigger way — tomorrow.
Today’s high will hover near 81.
In the News
• As Democrats lay into President Trump, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo takes a slightly different route — a strategy some see as a nod to re-election prospects. [New York Times]
• Sanny Liu, the widow of the slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu, gave birth to their child, two years after his death. [New York Times]
• A Rikers Island inmate who slipped away from several guards and disappeared on Wednesday night was found early this morning. [New York Times]
• Some M.T.A. board members are pushing back against plans to raise fares. [New York Times]
• A ruling of suicide in the death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court. [New York Times]
• “The People’s Guide to Power,” a new WNYC series running through local elections in November, explores how government works in our region. [WNYC]
• An affiliate of a costume shop has bought its East Village space for nearly $25 million. [The Real Deal]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Fender Bender Coming Off the George Washington Bridge”
• Scoreboard: Yankees paint the Reds, 9-5. Padres punish Mets, 6-3.
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Thursday Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• Broadway actors from “A Bronx Tale,” “Anastasia: Home at Last,” “Avenue Q,” and “The Imbible” perform at Byrant Park in Midtown. 12:30 p.m. [Free]
• Fishing, live music, drinks and barbecue at the Audubon Center at the Boathouse in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 6 p.m. [$25, includes food and drink]
• The author and former C.I.A. senior analyst Melvin A. Goodman presents his book, “Whistleblower at the CIA: An Insider’s Account of the Politics of Intelligence,” at the Mid-Manhattan Library in Midtown. 6:30 p.m. [Free]
• Theater performances staged with alternative light sources, part of Dark Fest, at The Tank in Midtown. First performance at 7 p.m. [Tickets start at $10]
• Yankees host Rays, 7:05 p.m. (YES). Mets at Padres, 9:10 p.m. (SNY).
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Aug. 15.
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
More than 250 readers weighed in on our coverage of the transportation authority’s plan to resolve subway issues, specifically on the removal of seats on some cars.
Several readers offered humorous, less practical solutions. Most simply complained.
Here’s a selection:
“Fewer seats is a solution? Why not just strap us on to the top of the cars and tell us to hold on for dear life?”
— Mitchell Feinman, 63, Hell’s Kitchen
“Removing seats is a horrible and inhumane idea. There are many elderly people, pregnant women, people with back and foot injuries, and just exhausted people who have to ride the train for over an hour just to get to work and they need those few seats.”
— Angie Wojak, 49, Inwood
“I have, more frequently than I want to acknowledge, heard a number of parents who say to their children, ‘Here you sit down.’ And I’m so old that I still remember the campaign that they desperately need to bring back, ‘Little enough to ride for free? Little enough to ride your knee.’”
— Ellen Fuhrer Salomon, 63, Armonk, N.Y.
“Removing seats caters to higher income riders and tourists who take shorter rides or don’t ride often. For the rest of us who spend over an hour per day on the subway, we need them to fix the signals to permit more trains to run more often and more dependably. Everyone taking a long ride on a train should be able to sit, relax, read a book or newspaper, etc. It is an important quality-of-life issue.”
— Michele W. Miller, Washington Heights
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