By the end of 1964, the New York Transit Authority wanted to eliminate its existing fleet of low alloy subway cars, replacing them with units made of stainless steel. The following year, a new batch of 600 subway cars were in service, according to the June 1965 issue of The American City. Officials estimated that the $68.8 million cars would save $6 million in operating and maintenance costs over the next 35 years. The Philadelphia-based Budd Co. manufactured the Brightliner cars, which included molded aqua-colored fiberglass and polyester seats; panoramic windows; and color-coordinated vinyl asbestos tile floors. Officials anticipated a savings of $8,000 in power costs alone over each car's lifespan and $5.5 million for all 600 cars. The cars' stainless steel construction would save an additional $480,000 because it did not require painting.

Forty-two years later, 6,200 subway cars, many of which were manufactured as early as 1963, travel along 26 lines through the city. Now operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the cars are manufactured by several companies, including Kawasaki Rail Car, Alstom, St. Louis Car Co. and the Budd Car Co. New cars are frequently put into service and include features such as large windows, automatic announcements, electronic message signs and brightly colored walls and seats. The MTA plans to retrofit certain models with technology that will allow a computer to control functions, such as adjustments to speed and distance between trains, and announce the time riders will wait between trains.