A tribute to a luxurious, experimental subway train

One of the most awsome subway cars ever built were the State-of-the-Art (SOAC) cars.

SOAC was a program administered by the Urban Mass Transpartation Administration in the early 70's to assess new technology and design in subway car construction.

Only two SOAC cars were built. It was a married-pair non-articulated set built by the St. Louis Car Company/GSI Industries during 1973-74. The car bodies sides were patterned after, and nearly identical to the R-44 type cars of the New York City Transit System which were built by SLCC in the early 70's. They sported lightweight trucks and a large two-pane windshield with the UMTA/DOT symbol on the left.

While the train was a landmark in testing new equipment and materials, they were not entirely unique, however. San Francisco's BART system were already running similar space-age inspired rapid transit cars. Thus, SOAC was basically to test new technology in existing, older systems, of which there were five in 1974.

After testing at  UMTA's test track in Pueblo, Colorado, the SOAC cars ran on the properties of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Cleveland during the summer and fall of 1974. It did not run in San Francisco. These cars were also used as test-beds for future rapid transit systems in the planning stage, such as Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

The cars were then withdrawn from service. They eventually were given to the Lindenwold High-Speed Line between Philadelphia and Camden, NJ. After their service ended there, they were sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, where they remain in a deteriorated state, awaiting restoration.

The SOACs were a magnificent piece of equipment. Its interiors were of the highest and most comfortable quality (one car was high-density, the other low-density) utilizing plush upholstered seating and carpeting on both floors and interior door partitions. Its interior design was extremely colorful and pleasing. And the most advanced computerized systems of the day were used in its control systems.

UMTA published two booklets 1n 1974 which were given out on the trains as souvenirs, and can be accessed at the following link:

SOAC Brochures & Booklets