If you’re one of the 6 million people who use the New York City subway daily, you already know how badly the system is in need of an upgrade. Luckily, that relief is on the way thanks to an initiative announced recently by the MTA.

Deal Points Of The Order

The agreement reached is with Japanese company Kawaski and has three phases. The first phase is the purchase of 535 future-tech R211 models at a reported cost of $1.45 billion. This order is expected to be available to the public by 2020. If the initial order performs well, the MTA retains the right to place an order for an additional 1,077 cars at a total price of $2.25 billon. This order would be phased out in two halves. If approved, this second and third phase would be available by 2023.

An Improved Design

The car is a specialty R211 model designed by Kawaski and each car comes with many new upgrades. Two of the most attractive new features are the additions of in-car Wi-Fi, and USB charging stations. Along with these features, each new cars will offer digital information displays, as well as digital advertisements, and an illuminated door messaging system.

Along with these digital upgrades, each new car will come with a host of design improvements as well. One of the most notable upgrades will be an increased size in train doors. Expanding from 50 inches to 58 inches will allow more passengers to enter and exit the trains at a faster rate and will reportedly reduce ‘dwell time’ (time spent at the station) by an estimated 32%. The new trains will also feature a new open gangway design as well. This feature will reportedly allow passengers to move freely between cars, and will allow more passengers to fit into each train as well.

One last noteworthy upgrade will be the increased safety measures incorporated into each of the new train cars. From security cameras, to high visibility walkways, improved emergency stop features, and brighter lighting, the new cars will be a much safer ride.

Why The Upgrade Is Needed

First opened in 1904, the New York City subway system operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. With so much use, periodic upgrades are needed and that time has once again come. Currently, 750 of the cars on the A, F, R and C lines were built between 1975 and 1978. By the end of the Kawaksi contract, all 750 of these cars will be fully retired. Along with the age of the cars, another need for the upgrade is the sheer increase in ridership. In the 1990’s, roughly 4 million people rode the subway everyday. Today, that number is closer to 6 million.

The current system has not increased to accommodate this rise in ridership. Due to the lack of increased accommodation, starting in 2014 and 2015 the system began to see overall delays and an increase in swell times. The new cars are designed specifically to improve this situation. All of these upgrades are expected to result in a more comfortable, and more reliable ride for everyone using the NYC subway system.