R-10 to R-42 - 1948 to 1969

R-1 to R-9 - 1932 to 1940

R-10 to R-22 - Single Units

R-26 to R-42 - Married Pairs

Door controls and cabs

R-44 to R-68 1987 ABBA sets

Deep-Sixed Redbirds

IRT Museum Fleet

R-1 to R-9 Cars - 1932 to 1940

In 1932, the Board of Transportation, the first city transit operating agency, started running the IND subway. The line operated from Hudson Terminal to 207th Street, on what is then, as now called the A train.

The cars used were the first of some 1700 cars (Numbered 100-1802) which were collectively called the R-1 to 9 types. The "R" type classification system is still in use today by the Transit Authority and the MTA. In fact, the cars purchased by the LIRR and METRO NORTH have "M" type classifications.

Prior to their unification into the Board of Transportation, in 1940, the IRT (IRT Cars 1904 to 1939 )and BMT (BMT Cars 1914 to 1940 ) each designed and built their own fleets of cars and had their own classification systems. Gaps in the R numbers represent work car orders (cranes, locomotives, etc).

1 100 399 300 IND 1932 ACF
Car 100
4 400 899 500 IND 1933 ACF
6-3 900 1149 250 IND 1935 ACF
6-2 1150 1299 150 IND 1936 Plmn
6-1 1300 1399 100 IND 1936 PrSt
7 1400 1474 75 IND 1937 ACF
7 1475 1549 75 IND 1937 Plmn
7A 1550 1599 50 IND 1938 Plmn Car 1575
7A 1600 1649 50 IND 1938 Plmn
9 1650 1701 52 IND 1940 Plmn
9 1702 1802 101 IND 1940 PrSt

These cars were equipped with 2 190HP/600 volt motors. All of these cars have been scrapped, sold to museums, or converted to work cars. Two thirds of one car is located in Golden's Deli in the K-Mart / PATHMARK Center on Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY.

All of these cars had conductor controls loacted outside on each end. the conductors stood on small platforms between two cars.

These cars together with the cars built by the BMT and IRT lines are collectively called Pre-War cars (WWII) all subesquent cars are Post-War. There are major mechanical, electrical and air brake differences, as well as cosmetic differences between the pre and post war fleets so the collective classification is more than only a time frame marker.

R Type Cars 1948 to 1969


Starting with the R-10 cars, the BMT and IND lines were standardized to 60' long, 10' wide. The division assignment listed is the division that group first operated on. The BMT, prior to 1940 experimented with many variations of car length. All IRT cars are 50' 4" long and 8' 9.5" wide.

Gaps in the car numbers are due to skipping numbers that were in use by IRT and BMT cars still in service.

10 1803 1852
(2950 2999)
renumbered 1970
BMT (re-assigned to IND) Outside 1948 AFC
3000 3349 350 IND
11 8010 8019 10 IND Outside 1949 Budd
12 5703 5802 100 IRT Outside 1948 ACF
14 5803 5952 150 IRT Outside 1949 ACF
15 5953 5999
6200 6252
100 IRT Inside 1950 ACF
16 6300 6499 200 BMT Inside 1955 ACF
Car 6452 removed from PS 248 for track and anti-terrorist training (7/14/2004)
17 6500 6899 400 IRT Inside 1955 StL
21 7050 7299 250 IRT Inside 1956 StL
22 7300 7749 450 IRT Inside 1957 StL

At the end of service for the Third Ave El in the Bronx, the R-12's were modified with dynamic brakes cut out for operation there because of the old structure south of 157th St. The Bronx El was abandoned in 1973.


All of the car types purchased to 1957 were single cars. That is, they could operate alone or in trains of up to 10 cars. Starting with the R-26, the New York City Transit Authority started to order cars in "married pairs". These cars were permanently or semi-permanently coupled together. The two sharing an air compressor and battery/generator set. The theory was that by having to maintain half as many of these components, costs could be held down. These cars could be operated in even number of car trains only.

In Out
26 7750 7859 110 IRT Dual/
1959 1990's ACF
27 8020 8249 230 BMT Dual/
1960 1989 StL
28 7860 7959 100 IRT Dual/
1960 1990's ACF
29 8570 8805 236 IRT Dual/
1962 1990's StL
30 8250 8351
8412 8569
260 BMT Dual/
1961 1992 StL
30A 8352 8411 60 BMT Dual/
1961 1992 StL
32A 3350 3649 300 BMT Dual/
1965   Budd
32 3650 3949 300 BMT Dual/
1965   Budd R-32 2013 Rehab
33 8806 9305 500 IRT Dual/
1963 2003 StL
9306 9345 40 IRT* Dual/Dual
36 9346 9523
9558 9769
IRT Dual/
1964 2003 StL
9524 9557 34 IRT*
38 3950 4149 200 IND Dual/
1966 2009 StL
40 4150 4449 300 IND Motorman/
1967 2009 StL
4450-4549 100
The R-40's were designed by Raymond Loewy (who did the PRR GG-1 engines). The TA was not happy with the slant ends and the last 100 cars were designed by Sundberg-Ferar. Because of the split between GE and WH controls, the car number were delivered as shown below.
For operational reasons the TA renumbered the fleet in 1970 to get the straight end cars in the group before the 400 R-42 cars. It also blocked the 200 non-air conditioned cars together and the 200 A/C cars together.
After the Overhaul program of the 1980's all of the cars were A/C equipped.
4150-4249 100 Slant Fans Same 2009
4250-4349 100 Straight Air Cond 4450-4549 2009
4350-4449 100 Slant Fan 4250-4349 2009
4450-4549 100 Slant Air Cond 4350-4449 2009
See all of the variations on the R-40 and R-42 fleets in the spotters guide.
42 4550 4949 400 IND/BMT Motorman/

* - Prior to the 1964-5 NY World's Fair, the NYCTA purchased cars for use on the #7 - FLUSHING IRT line to the fair. (FOLLOW THE BLUE ARROW TO THE FAIR). The #7 line had been equipped for 11 car trains for a number of years. How does the TA get 11 car trains if all of the new cars are married pairs? Forty R-33 cars were built as single units (9306-9345) to become the odd cars in 11 car trains. These were painted the blue and grey colors of the World's Fair fleet. The remaining R-33 cars were married pairs and painted red for main line (Lexington and 7th Ave services). The 34 R-36 cars (9524-9557) were painted red for main line service. All of the others were blue and grey for World's Fair service. Now that all of the IRT non-stailess steel cars are red, the quick way of determining the R-36's for the mainline had drop windows. The R-36 cars for the Flushing line have the picture windows (see the photos).

All of the cars from R-10 to R-42 were delivered with 4 100HP/300 volt motors and although the BMT/IND cars were wider than those of the IRT, they could operate together (except for R-11's) in yards when needed to move cars for repairs. Some of the cars were overhauled and equipped with 115 HP motors.

The delivery of the cars up to R-42's marked the end of the line for the BMT and IRT Pre-War cars and some of the R-1 to 9's. However the Myrtle Ave and Third Ave els still required lighter pre-war and wooden cars.

Notes about the cabs of married pairs: All of the single cars with inside conductor controls, every cab had controls for both motorman and conductor. With the introduction of married pairs, conductor controls were provided in all cabs. The R-40 and R-42 cars were the only fleets with strictly motorman cabs on the #1 ends and conductor cabs at the #2 (married ends). This forced the conductor on four and eight car trains to be set up off center of the consist. For safety, stations that operated these cars required multiple conductor indication boards.

Notes about the door controls All of the cars up to and including the R-38 fleet had drum switches to set up the conductor position. All cars except the R-38 fleet had a lever located on the side window ledge. A key was required to unlock the lever to change the position. The R-38 cars had a three position key controlled switch. The positions were:

OFF: This was the end of the train or to separate the zones if a rear guard was assigned to the train.
ON or RUN: This was the setting for the conductor or rear guard control position.
THRU: All other cabs in the train.

The rear guards were used on the Lexington Ave Express as late as 1962. The conductor was located between cars one and two, the rear guard between cars nine and ten. At Bowling Green, the conductor was able to open both sides of the first car for passengers wanting to transfer to the South Ferry shuttle.

From the R-40 and later cars, a master contol key replaced the drum switch. With this system, the conductor needed to activate the Master Door Control (MDC) in any cab and then use the regular key to actually open and close the doors. In eight car R-40 and R-42 trains, the conductor could change positions by using the MDC at one cab to open the doors. Then remove the MDC, go to the new position and use the MDC to activate that cab. Now the doors may be closed from that position.

August 2009 - Dates taken out of service added to chart. Not all IRT dates are accurate, the 2003 date was the last run of any 'REDBIRD' of any class operated on the Flushing line. The R-26 and R-28 cars were removed earlier and the R-33 and R-36 were the last to run.

November 3, 2003 - Jeffrey Erlitz Photo - mouse over for larger view

See NYCT Cars - Current Car Fleet for the progression of the R-32 to R-42 replacement with the R-160 fleet.

Notes Upon the Deep Sixed Redbirds

In mid-2001, the redbirds began to be retired with the arrival of the R-142 and R-142A cars. Many of the scraped cars were placed in Davie Jones' Locker as artifical reefs off the Delaware coast.

Many of the news reports are saying the the cars being sunk in early August 2001 are the cars that operated to the 1964 World's Fair. This is, for the most part NOT true. The original REDBIRDS were the R-29 cars delivered from St. Louis Car Company in 1962. These were closely followed by the nearly identical R-33 cars, most of which were painted red too. The 34 R-36 cars that backfilled the mainline IRT from the 'borrowed' single R-33 cars rounds out the original redbirds.

Most of the R-36 cars and some 40 R-33 cars were painted the two tone blue colors of the 1964 World's Fair. In the 1980's these cars were painted white and finally red.

From the mid to late 1960's to the 1980's all of the new cars being delivered were for the BMT-IND lines and were all stainless Steel. All of the IRT began to be painted red during this period. The older BMT-IND cars (including the R-1 to 9 types) were painted that hideous silver and blue scheme. It never looked natural. In time, the R-1 to 9's and the early post war cars were retired. All of the remaining non-stainless cars from R-26 to R-36 were painted red and dubbed the REDBIRDS.

The first of the REDBIRDS meeting Davie Jones were (from the 9/2001 ERA - NY Division Bulletin):

13 R-26
4 R-28
1 R-33 (blue)
1 R-33S (blue)
2 R-36 (red)

Februay 9, 2009 article about problems with the staineless steel reefed cars off Atlantic City.

The IRT Museum fleet

R-12 - 5760
R15 - 6239
R-17 - 6609
R-33 - 9068 - green
R-33 - 9069 - red
R-33 - 9306
R-33 - 9016-17 - red
R-33 - 9206-07 - silver/blue

NYCTA Subway Cars 1969 to 1980's

In Service Removed
44* 100 387
(5202 5479)
IND 1971
1994-5 renumber (not in order)
2010 StL
Over the years, 10 R-44 cars have been lost in accidents:
109, 120, 132, 176, 215, 227, 246, 288, 315, 385
380-387 8 Delivered with ABEX hydraulic brakes. Converted to air brakes
388-399 12 IND Transfered to SIRT in 1986  
Cars 388-399 from the IND retained their original numbers after being transfered.
400 435 36 SIRT 1973   StL The first 36 cars (400-435) make up 18 A-B sets.
436 466 18 Cars 436-466 are all even A cars.
46* 500 1227 728 IND 1975   Plmn
Cars 941 and1054 were scrapped before the renumbering from the 500-1278 to the 5482+ series.
46* 1228 1278 26 even # only

The R-46 non-cab ends were equipped with hostler controls to allow train movements to be made in yards without the need for a flagman to do reverse moves.

(5482 6258) 752 IND 1994-5
Renumbered (not in order)
The last 28 cars (27 A and 1 B) were renumbered as follows:
1226 to 6206 A-B Unit
1227 to 6207 w/ hostler control
Remaining A cars 1228-1278 to 6208-6258
not in order
62 1301 1625 325 IRT 1983   Kwsk R-62
62A 1651 2475 825 IRT 1985   Bmbr
68 2500 2924 425 IND 1986   WEAM R-68
68A 5001 5200 200 IND 1987   Kwsk

An interesting note on the way the cars have been numbered beginning with the R-62 and R68A contracts:
NYCT car numbering had usually begun with a '00' or at least a '0' as the last digit. Thus the 600 R-32's (null and A) were 3350 - 3949. Apparently, someone at NYCT or the MTA couldn't figure out that that's still 600 cars. So starting with the 62 and 68A contracts, the blocks started with '01'.

* The R-44 and R-46 cars were built 75' long to usually operated in 4 or 8 car trains. They also use a modification of the married pair concept. These cars are semi-permanently coupled in pairs where the even number car has air compressor, battery/alternator, and crew cab (designated A cars) - the odd number car has no controls and is dependent upon the even car for air and auxiliary power (designated B cars). All cars are equipped with 4 115HP/300 volt motors. The cars are operated in 4 or 8 car trains arranged ABBAABBA (except for the former JFK Airport service which operated 3 car trains). They could also be used in AA, ABA, AAA, ABBA configurations. In order to make extra A cars available, the last group of R-46 cars are even numbered (A) only. The original SIRT cars 400-452 had no A-B-even-odd rules.

With the advent of ABBA sets, cabs are now all dual purpose.

After the overhaul and permanently coupling, the even only R-46 cars were paired as AA sets.

Other changes in mechanical, air brake and electrical controls make these cars incompatable with all other cars.

Because of problems in the "STATE of the ART" controls, which were required by the planned cab signaling - which never happened, the NYCTA opted to return to the more reliable system used in the last IRT order, R-36 cars for the R-62 order placed in 1981. Also, the idea of married pairs was discontinued in favor of single cars for the R-62 and R-68 contracts.

When the R-44 and R-46 cars were overhauled in the early 1990's, they were renumbered as shown in the chart , equiped with more reliable controls, and permanently coupled into four car train sets.

The R-44 and 46 cars replaced the remaining R-1 to 9 cars and some of the Post War BMT/IND cars. Since the R-44/46 cars were 75' long eight cars were able to replace ten older cars. The R-62 and R-68 cars allowed the retirement of the 1948 to 1960 groups of cars. The post 1963 cars have all been overhauled and had air conditioning installed (except the single R-33 cars) to prolong their use.

As of late 1998, the R-62 and R-62A (five cars), R-68 and R-68A (four cars) car sets. This is a way to save money by not having to maintain components related to operating the train (controllers, brake valves and door controls). As part of this linking two of five compressors are removed from R62/62A unitsand one of four compressors removed from R68/68A units.

Subsequent to the above, a number of things have changed the R-62 and R-68 fleets.

2012 update for R-62 fleet

Manufacturer key:
ACF American Car and Foundry
Bmbr Bombardier (bom-BAR-dee-air) - it's French
Budd Budd Car Company
WEAM Fabricated in France, constructed in Brooklyn, NY
Kwsk Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Plmn Pullman Car Co.
PrSt . Pressed Steel Car Co
StL St. Louis Car

- -

- The JoeKorNer

All photos are from the MTA New York City Transit archives. These GIF files were scanned from offset press prints, thus the quality of the reproduction varies with your monitor and video card capabilities.

With corrections and additions contributed by Edward Crew