MTA pulls entire fleet of newest subway cars over ongoing door problems

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA has pulled its entire fleet of R179 subway cars, the newest model, over ongoing door problems.

The cars were manufactured by Bombardier, which the MTA recently blasted for missed deadlines, poor car design, and construction methods.

"Bombardier Transportation alerted the MTA last night that its analysis of two recent incidents, in which all passengers were safe, raised questions about the reliable operation of a door mechanism on their newly-delivered R179 cars," New York City Transit President Andy Byford said. "Out of an abundance of caution, NYCT removed all R179 train cars from service overnight for thorough inspection and re-deployed other spare cars to continue service for (Wednesday) morning's rush and ensure minimal impacts to customers."

Comptroller Scott Stringer audited Bombardier last month.

"The New York City subway riders who foot the bill for the MTA's $600 million contract with Bombardier were promised new, state-of-the-art train cars to help modernize our ailing transit system," he said. "Now, all the cars that were delivered so far have been pulled from service due to critical defects. It is completely unacceptable."

The MTA has 6,716 subway cars in total, with the 298 R179s representing less than 5% of the fleet. Officials said there were enough replacement trains and that only the J and Z lines had any service reductions as a result of the cars being pulled.

"My office released an audit that exposed how this contract became three years behind schedule and cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars," Stringer said. "Our investigation revealed layers of mismanagement in the MTA's oversight of the contract, repeated failures to meet contract deadlines and requirements, poor project management and technical breakdowns, structural defects that delayed cars being put into service, and several earlier structural problems that caused some of these trains to be pulled from service."

Stringer called for better oversight to prevent such problems in the future.

"Bombardier sold us lemons," he said. "Straphangers need the MTA to manage these contracts from the beginning before the trains go off the rails."

Bombardier is blaming the flub on a supplier it maintains made the "problematic doors," but Byford also seems to have had enough, calling the latest development unacceptable and adding the MTA intends to hold the company fully accountable.

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