Participating in the New York Transit Museum Nostalgia Ride on September 29 on the Q line from Brighton Beach to Coney Island was a great trip into long-forgotten history.
The oldest was the 1903 Brooklyn Rapid Transit train. It consisted of wooden cars equipped with metal gates and electric lights hanging overhead. These cars were considered state of the art at the time.
Riding old subway cars reminded me of a time in the early 1960's when it was common to find both penny gum and soda machines dispensing products at many subway stations.
Previous generations of both bus and subway riders survived daily commutes with no air conditioning. All they had for comfort were overhead fans.
It was not until 1966 that NYC Transit first purchased over 600 buses with this new feature. By the early 1990's, 100% of the bus fleet was air conditioned.
In 1967, NYC Transit introduced the first ten air-conditioned subway cars operating on the old IND system A, C, E, F & G lines). It was not until 1975 that air-conditioned subway cars were introduced on the old IRT (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Franklin Avenue and Times Square shuttle lines).
Subsequently, this also included the old BMT system (B, D, J, L, M, N, Q, R & Z lines). It took until 1982 to retrofit all the original IRT "Redbird" series subway cars.
By 1993, 99 percent of the 6,000 subway cars were air conditioned with the exception of a handful running on the 7 line.