The R46 is a New York City Subway car that operates on the IND and BMT routes of the New York City Subway. They were built by Pullman Standard in Chicago, Illinois in 1975–78. These cars, as well as the previous R44 were 75 feet (23 m) long. While most R44s had Westinghouse propulsion, the R46 had General Electric propulsion.
The R46 order was 754 cars, numbered from 500-1278. After they were rebuilt in 1989–92, they were renumbered to 5482-6258. Only 752 cars were rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen. Two of the cars (1054 & 941) had been scrapped due to accidents. Even cars with cabs are A cars, odd cars (without cabs) are B cars. After the overhaul, the R46s were equipped with LCD side screens and lost their MTA blue stripe paint-scheme. The R46s are arranged in linked sets.
Issues with the R46 fleet dated back to delivery, as part of the 754-car order was significantly behind schedule due to a strike at the builder, Pullman Standard. As a result of the strike and other problems, the last of the R46s were deployed in December 1978, three years behind schedule.
In March 1977, a crack was found in the frame of one of the lightweight Rockwell trucks resulting in a motor breaking loose from the truck, striking an axle. By 1978, there had been cracks found in 264 R46 trucks. Because of these problems, all R46s had to be checked three times a week for truck cracks. In February 1978, 889 cracks were found in 547 of the trucks. The cracking became so bad that on June 14, 1979, New York City Mayor Koch ordered R46s with trucks that had two or more cracks out of service. The more than 1,200 cracks that had been found by that day were classified into seven types. An account called the R46s "the most troubled subway car ever purchased". The R46 Rockwell truck mess continued into 1980. By this time, the number of cracks found on the trucks almost doubled, from 889 cracks logged in February 1979 to 1,700 in March 1980. To keep track of their structural issues, R46 trucks had to be inspected several times a week. In September 1980, two cracks of a type not seen before were found on the trucks. As a result, the NYCTA minimized use of the R46 fleet.
In July 1979 Pullman Standard informed the TA that the hand brake assemblies for the R46 could be faulty and they should be removed. In late July 1979, inspectors reported that steel was wearing away at the spot where the car body was joined to the truck, and that this could be potentially unsafe. By the end of 1979, numerous other flaws in the R46 fleet were found, and the Transit Authority filed another US$80 million charge against Pullman Standard and a number of other subcontractors. This lawsuit invalidated an agreement made with Pullman by executive director John G. DeRoos for US$1.5 million in spare parts to remedy the defects. Just as the R44 put the St. Louis Car Company out of the passenger car business, the R46 order put Pullman Standard out of business.
From 1989 to 1992, Morrison-Knudsen rebuilt the R46 fleet. After overhaul, the R46 fleet featured LCD destination signs. During overhaul the blue stripe on the side of the car was removed, resulting in the appearance of an entirely unpainted carbody (The fiberglass ends remain painted silver to match with the stainless sides). Other improvements included the rebuild of all mechanical systems, making the R46 more compatible with other cartypes. Since the overhaul, the reliability of the R46 has vastly improved and the R46 fleet is no longer considered to be the lemon that it once was. Another overhaul is currently underway, which consists of changing the brown floor to the white-spotted black floor and repainting the seats to a periwinkle-blue color, similar to the ones in the new R160 cars, and replacing the suspension springs in the trucks for a notably smoother ride. They are scheduled to remain in service until at least 2015.