MS Multi-section car (New York City Subway car)

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MS Multi-section car
BMT Green Hornet 7003.jpg
The BMT Green Hornet
BMT Zephyr.jpg
The BMT Zephyr
In service1936-1960
ManufacturerPullman - 7003, 7014-7028 / St Louis Car 7004-7013 /Budd - 7029
Scrapped1942, 1959-1961
Number built27 cars
Number preserved0
Number scrapped27
FormationThree-section articulated units
Fleet numbers7003, 7014-7028, 7004-7013, 7029
Capacity666: 170 (seated) 496 (standing) (Zephyr)
674: 184 (seated) 490 (standing) (Green Hornet)
716: 198 (seated) 514 (standing) (Production Cars)
Operator(s)Brooklyn Rapid Transit
New York City Transit Authority
Car body constructionSteel
Car length168 ft 6 in (51.36 m) (Zephyr)/170 ft (51.82 m) (Green Hornet)/179 ft 4 in (54.66 m) (production cars)
Width10 ft (3.05 m) over thresholds (Green Hornet and Zephyr)/ 10 ft 10 in (3.30 m) over thresholds (production cars)
Height12 ft (3.66 m) (Green Hornet and production cars)/11 ft 7.5 in (3.54 m) (Zephyr)
Floor height3 ft 2 18 in (0.97 m)
Maximum speed60 mph (97 km/h)
Weight170,610 lb (77,387 kg) (Green Hornet), 159,250 lb (72,235 kg) (Zephyr), 180,830 lb (82,023 kg) (production cars)
Traction systemMotor car: Westinghouse M1431A, 1433, General Electric 1196A1, 1186 Air Compressor: Westinghouse XD29 P.C.C. Multi-Notch 47 pts (Green Hornet, and St. Louis Car production cars), General Electric 17KG39A1 (Pullman Standard production cars), 17KG21A (Zephyr "C" car), 17KM1C (Zephyr "A, A1" cars)
Prime mover(s)electric motor
Power output70 hp (52 kW)
Electric system(s)600 V DC Third rail
Current collection methodTop running Contact shoe
Braking system(s)WABCO Schedule AMSF or AMCE
Coupling systemWABCO H2A
Headlight typeincandescent light bulbs
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The MS Multi-section was a series of New York City Subway cars. They were built in prototype form in 1934 with production models built in 1936. Built by the Budd, Pullman and St. Louis car companies, they were called "Multis" for short.


The MS was an articulated car made up of five sections. Their average length was 170 ft (52 m), making them the longest articulated units ever used in the history of the BMT. The first two pilot cars, numbered 7003 and 7029, were delivered in 1934 by the Budd Company and Pullman Company. The Pullman version was known as the Green Hornet, while Budd's was called the Zephyr, both names being unofficial. The Green Hornet (and the 25 production cars) had two double-leaf doors on each section (10 doors per unit), while the Zephyr had four single-leaf doors on each section (20 doors per unit). These cars were in production at the same time as the Union Pacific M-10000 and the Budd Pioneer Zephyr for the CB&Q. Testing of these cars proved successful and the BMT ordered a further 25 cars, 15 from Pullman and 10 from St. Louis Car Co.


The production model of the MS Multi-section cars.

The two units were initially tested on the Fulton St. el for comparison, and when the tests were concluded they were relegated to Franklin Ave. Shuttle service, almost never appearing in through service to Brighton Beach or Coney Island except occasionally for put-ins (out-of-service trains re-inserted in revenue service) or layups (out-of-service trains stored on unused yard or express tracks).

The Green Hornet had undergone some slight modifications, and the BMT management hoped to eventually run it in consists with the Pullman-Standard built Multi units. However, with the onset of World War II, the Green Hornet was scrapped in 1942 for its valuable aluminum body.[1] The unit had been plagued by master controller problems and was only in service for three years before it was withdrawn after maintenance revealed two cracked trucks. The Zephyr had a much better service record and remained in service on the Franklin Avenue Shuttle until it was retired in 1954. The unit was then scrapped in 1959.[2]

The 25 production cars were built by Pullman Standard and the St. Louis Car Company. Units 7003 and 7014-7028 A-B-C-B1-A1 were built by Pullman, while units 7004-7013 A-B-C-B1-A1 were built by St. Louis.[3] They were introduced in 1936, but were quickly withdrawn from service for truck modifications. The St. Louis built units over the years were particularly troublesome in that regard.

They were returned to service one year later and began serving on the Canarsie Line. In December 1956, they were transferred to Myrtle-Chambers service for purposes of cutting their mileage, as was commonly done at the time with all oddball types of equipment. One train in addition ran in the Broadway Short Line service. In February, 1958, a few units underwent a one-week stint in Franklin Avenue service (shuttle and on the last day, a Sunday, local to Brighton Beach). They were finally retired from service on September 5, 1961, and all were scrapped later that year.[4]

Additional Information[edit]

The MS was notable for its rapid acceleration rate (4 mph/s or 6.4 km/(h⋅s) for the Green Hornet and the 25 production cars, and 5 mph/s or 8.0 km/(h⋅s) for the Zephyr) and its "balancing speed" — the maximum speed attainable on level track, running empty — was relatively high (53 mph or 85 km/h for the Green Hornet, 55 mph or 89 km/h for the Zephyr, and 58 mph or 93 km/h for the 25 production units).

The Zephyr was built without couplers, so it could only operate as a single unit.

The Green Hornet subway car was among the first subway cars to incorporate a two-note warning tone, the first two notes of Westminster Quarters, that sounds before the doors begin to close as the train prepares to leave the station. This feature, however, would not become standard for all subway cars until the R44 order in 1971.


Further reading[edit]

  • Sansone, Gene. Evolution of New York City subways: An illustrated history of New York City's transit cars, 1867-1997. New York Transit Museum Press, New York, 1997 ISBN 978-0-9637492-8-4

External links[edit]