Life After Rail: New York’s Decommissioned Subway Cars

Have you ever wondered what happens to New York’s decommissioned subway cars? No? Me neither.

Life After Rail New York's Decommissioned Subway Cars

But when I came across this article by Michael Hession, I was pleasantly surprised. Turns out, the subway cars many of us have come to associate with expensive commutes, which unnecessarily last for hours with the dispatcher repeatedly taunting us with “there’s train traffic ahead of us”, are actually good for marine life.

By stripping the metal frames of the subway cars and dumping them in the ocean, we help create artificial reef habitats that attract various aquatic organisms and promote healthier sea life. According to Hession, this is a practice we have been engaging in for over a decade. Ironically, while utilized by the MTA, these same trains have been known to induce psychosis in commuters leading to occasional homelessness.

Life After Rail New York's Decommissioned Subway Cars

Stephen Mallon, a pretty happening photographer, was fortunate to capture the moments New York’s famed subway cars meet the sea over the course of three years. His Next Stop, Atlantic series documents this process.

It’s interesting to ponder about the collection of decommissioned trains serving an environmental purpose on the floor of the Atlantic. Here, in the glorious Big Apple, they are usually though of as quite the opposite; hubs of germs and body fluids that make the stomach of untrained subway passengers turn with vile disgust.

Good thing someone decided to do something constructive with New York’s decommissioned subway cars, giving them a second life after rail. 

Images: Gizmodo.com

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