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New York's subway car stock has changed for safety's sake

When you take mass transit in New York City, you may notice that one subway car or bus is not the same as the others. But you probably don't care. As it turns out, though, the Big Apple has long been a laboratory for new types of transportation.

Subway cars, like their surface train car partners, were made of wood when the system first got started in the early 20th century. But a single event got people on board with steel replacements. A massive train crash killed more than 100 people at the end of Brooklyn's Malbone Street in 1918. The memory of the tragedy was one of the reasons the street was renamed Empire Boulevard.

Some older car designs in use today lack some of the design improvements at the end of the 20th century and in the 21st century. The R-42 cars, which have been running on the New York subway since the 1960s, originally had fewer handles because there were fewer riders when they first came out.

There are a few other features that may not seem to matter, like the presence of a conductor's cabin or plastic caps over exterior lights. All subway cars in use today are considered safe, but feature more available handholds or sharp edges that could cause trauma in a collision matter in an emergency.

An attorney can help counsel the victims of mass transit accidents if they need help figuring out if their injuries were the fault of the system or its operators. No one should have to work these details out without help.

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