articulated
Stephen Rees

New York City’s subway authority is thinking about updating its trains, sometime in the future, to more modern, snake-like cars that don’t have walls or doors in between them. These cars mean that people can move more easily through a larger section of train, i.e. there won’t be one car packed so tight you can’t breathe right next to a car with extra space in it.

But there are advantages to the current design, too, as the New York Times reports:

Andrew Albert, a member of the transportation authority’s board, recalled that separated cars had served another purpose for the city in a different age.

“Remember the time when we were in the high-crime era and gangs were roaming through the trains?” he said. “Everybody loved the locked end doors.”

These days, we’re less worried about getting mugged and more worried about a different type of subway crime-against-humanity: drunk people vomiting in the car. And in Toronto, where they’ve already got newfangled “articulated trains,” a spokesman confirmed to the Times that this is indeed a flaw of the proposed designed:

“In the past, we’d be able to isolate that particular car and clean it,” he said. “Now that you’ve got an open gangway, you can’t necessarily.”

Maybe before New York moves to articulated cars, they can design a handy grated floor.