Friday, April 3, 2009

Lost Redbirds

Retired, extinct, dropped off the coast of the Carolinas to create rusty, unnatural reefs, New York City's Redbirds have vanished from the subway's tracks. Or have they?

On my trip to Flushing, while crossing the pedestrian bridge over to the park, I spotted this small flock. Just four or five cars sitting in the track yard alongside an expanse of silvery new trains.

Were they left here at the end of the last Redbird run? Are they hiding, afraid of the watery plunge?


Anonymous said...

Hey jeremiah,

I am trying to remember where I learned this but these old subway cars that were sent to become "unnatural" (exactly) reefs in Maryland (and I didn't realize also the Carolinas... who knows where else they went?), I heard at a panel that the chemicals in the subway cars killed the fish! I always thought this was a bad idea ?? but it seems like it was a *really* bad idea. I'd like to find an article on that or some other confirmation. Have you heard of that because perhaps we could save these? There seems like there must be other places they could go or maybe even be recycled.


Jeremiah Moss said...

i had no idea about those chemicals killing the fish. but it figures. maybe these redbirds could be turned into diners and sold to people in other states.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

This would seem to be an urban legend. I can find no article that says anything other than the cars are an enormous success.

Anonymous said...

Hi BaHa,

It can't really be an urban legend if no one's heard it! But thanks for checking. I remember now where I heard this and I am going to track down the speakers and find out where *they* heard it. I haven't tried 'googling' but it sounds like you did. It makes sense to me tho' that there would be a negative side to throwing subway cars in an ocean. As an environmentalist, I don't know how they got a 'sign off' on that. But then there are a lot of examples of things like that, so I suppose it shouldn't be surprising.

Jeremiah, that's a good idea!


EV Grieve said...

Even though these were retired some six years back... I found it interesting that the term "straphangers" is still used. At least in the Post and Daily News.

Unknown said...

All the cars used as artificial reefs were stripped of anything harmful before they were tossed. I seem to recall reading that the cars themselves were disintegrating faster than expected, and thus were of little use for the intended purpose. It was hoped that the cars would form a foundation for marine creatures like anemonies to build colonies, but this is a slow process and the cars are falling apart faster than the colonies can be built.

Of the remaining Redbirds, some may be retired to the museum fleet. Others will likely be converted for use as work cars and used for maintenance of way and trash collection duties.

Jill said...

There is still the Straphangers Coalition (or something like that) that advocates for the rights of subway riders. I think they are keeping the phrase alive.

Vince Neilstein said...

I've seen a number of these being used as work-cars along other lines.

Vince said...

I have personally been involved with the subway cars and artificial reefs. The fish absolutely love them. I have shot hours of video on the reefs with thousands of fish not a one having a problem. The old redbirds last well but the new stainless cars are falling apart.