History of the QUARTA Fleet
This article is about the history of the QUARTA fleet of vehicles.
- 1930-1965 after repairs in 1941
- The C100s by Chang y Sainz were the very first trains ever to run in Quentinsburgh as part of what was then known as the Red Line Subway. These trains were not articulated, and the seats in each car were wooden wall seats with a thin cushion on them, similar to some church pews. Originally only about 46 cars were purchased, as around 8 five-car trains would run on the short line that was part of today’s Line 1 with six back up train cars. These trains had a dark red metal exterior. By around 1936, these trains began to break down frequently. QUARTA would repair them in 1941 but these trains were still much less reliable than the C125s that would act as their successor. Most of these would be scrapped in 1970. QUARTA would keep 3 of them for historical purposes. One of these cars is now part of the QUARTA Transportation Museum.
- 1940-1973, reserve trains until 1980
- The C125s by Chang y Sainz were some of the longest lasting trains in the QUARTA network’s history. Introduced in 1940 as the Red Line Subway was extended to M. Williams Pkwy from its original northern terminus at Hayes Street, the C125s were similar to the C100s but with better interior lighting and forward facing wooden seats with the same thin cushions to increase capacity. These trains were well known for their exterior wood paneling in addition to the dark red metal exterior, similar to the FCTA streetcars of the day. The C125s continued running through the 1950’s when the second line of the Red Line Subway along Quentinsburgh Blvd and Freeman Road (today’s line 7) were completed and opened. From 1951 to 1953, all of the C125s were renovated, with new thicker cushions and train rolls. These trains would continue being used on the Red Line Subway even as new trains were purchased in the late 50’s with the completion of the first part of the Blue Line Subway (today’s line 2) and wouldn’t be retired until 1973. The trains were still used as reserves until 1980 and could occasionally be found on the Red Line Subway. Most of these would be scrapped in 1983. QUARTA would keep 5 of them for historical purposes. Two of these cars are now part of the QUARTA Transportation Museum.
- The C300s by Chang y Sainz were introduced to run on the Blue Line Subway. Like the C100s and the C125s, these trains were not articulated. The C300s were the first trains to introduce plastic and metal seats instead of the traditional wood, and had a cloth seat cover like what some cities have on buses today. These trains had a royal blue metal exterior, a feature touted with the opening of the Blue Line Subway. The blue color would, however, later fade, and by 1965 most of the trains had faded to just a dull metallic gray. Most of these would be scrapped in 1992. QUARTA would keep 5 of them for historical purposes. Two of these cars are now part of the QUARTA Transportation Museum.
- 1964-1999, reserve/Capitol Shuttle until 2010, Maintenance fleet through present
- The Star-15s were the first Starmobility-built subway cars in the QUARTA system. For a period between the 60’s and the late 1980’s, QUARTA largely chose Starmobility over Chang y Sainz, wanting to support their local production company. The Star-15’s, also not articulated, were more spacious inside and were some of the first with dedicated wheelchair space. These trains saw their debut replacing the C125s on the Red Line Subway, then on the Blue Line Subway. Later, more of these would be purchased upon the construction of the Green Line Subway (today’s line 3) in 1970 and would see some use along the Star-25s when the Orange Line Subway (today’s line 5) was built in 1978. The trains had a smooth beige metallic exterior, seen as futuristic at the time, and train rolls that included all four colors so trains could be used on every line. After retirement, the Star-15’s would largely be reserves, but would often be seen on the Capitol Shuttle (built in 1980 to connect the other lines) until the early 2010s. Most of these trains were scrapped in 2010 with some cars being given to the QUARTA Transportation Museum and others being kept to use for maintenence (cleaning, test cars, track laying, etc). Star-15s now make up the majority of QUARTA's maintenance fleet.
- 1977-2003, "last-resort" reserve to present
- The Star-25s would be the last Starmobility-built subway cars in the QUARTA system. Basically a modernized version of the Star-15s, the Star-25s were praised for their sleek silver metallic exterior, metal seats, brightly lit interiors, and (after renovation in 1988) electronic route displays. They would be introduced on every line triumphantly, as the train cars of the future. Little did they know that the Star-25’s would soon be showed up as QUARTA would proceed to replace the rest of their fleet and grow the fleet in the mid-1980s upon the construction of today’s lines 6, 8 and 9. About a third of these trains were scrapped in 2010 with some cars being given to the QUARTA Transportation Museum. The rest were saved to act as "last-resort" reserves in the case of a massive loss of other trains due to a natural disaster or sabotage.
- 1985-2010, 2015-present (expected to run through 2030)
- In the early 1980’s, knowing that the then unnamed Chavis/Emmerly line, the Hayes Line, and the Huxtable Line were to be completed in coming years, requiring more trains, QUARTA reached out to Starmobility, Chang y Sainz, and other manufacturers to see the best design for the next generation train car. Starmobile was initially the crowd favorite after the widely successful and loved Star-25s, but Chang y Sainz would win out after proposing a custom train with articulated cars. Each “accordian car” could hold the equivalent of 2.5 cars of passengers from past models, while providing more space on the train. These cars also had train rolls and electronic displays that would work better with QUARTA’s proposed new numbering system for the metro, still used today. This design would win easily, and the new Q500s and their white metallic exteriors would be introduced to the system in 1985. By 1995, almost the entire system would be using the new articulated cars, largely with the exception of the Capitol Shuttle, which was still using Star-15s and Star-25s during this time. These trains would eventually become the primary trains on the Capitol Shuttle until 2013. The Q500s-Q750s are all custom designed for the QUARTA system. All Q500s would be taken out of service in 2010 to be completely overhauled to match the standards of the Q700s and the Q750s purchased in 2014, including the exterior QLine branding, quieter motors, and completely new interiors with digital displays, ads, and maps. The cost that was required to renovate these trains is still highly controversial, but QUARTA officials believe it was the right choice over scrapping and replacing the trains, considering they were still running well. Some Q500s were added to the maintenance fleet, primarily as test cars.
- 1995-2013, 2015-present (expected to run through 2040)
- The Q600s were the first trains to go from the generic white metallic exterior to modern QUARTA branding with the blue and red stripes. They also introduced new completely electronic displays with color, a feature that would also be continued onto the Q700s and retrofitted onto the Q500s. In 2013, these trains would be temporarily taken out of service to be updated to match the standards of the Q700s and the Q750s purchased in 2014, as well as rebranding the trains specifically as the QLine instead of the generic QUARTA markings as used on the buses. This mainly included new seats and digital displays, ads, and maps. The cost was significantly lower than that of renovating the Q500s.
- 2005-present (expected to run through 2040)
- The Q700s are basically the same as the Q600s with minor tweaks, such as digital strip maps, digital ads, and slightly improved electronic displays. The Q700s also introduced the now-well-known doors opening and doors closing sounds using a c-major chord, in contrast to the old sound which was simply a ringing bell until the Star-15s and a typical ding-dong on the Star-25s and the original Q500s and Q600s. This new sound system would also be retrofitted onto the Q500s and Q600s.
- 2014-present (expected to run at least through 2040, likely beyond)
- The Q750s are sort of the modernized versions of the Q700s. They boast wider aisles, quieter trains, QR codes and interactive maps, Wi-Fi, and displays that show which side of the train’s doors will open. The Q750s, replacing many of the Q700s, were the first trains to use the new location-based ads that change based on where the trains are in the system and what line they’re running on. These features would originate on the Q750s, but (with the exception of the wider aisles) would also be retrofitted onto the Q500s, Q600s, and Q700s as part of the renovations QUARTA did to get all trains in the system to have uniform features. The Q600s, Q700s, and Q750s are expected to be part of the QUARTA system through 2040. QUARTA will decide in 2030 whether or not to scrap the Q500s based on their condition at that time.
Other Fun Facts
- Not all of the displays on the fronts and sides of the current trains can show all the colors for all the lines. Only the Q750s' displays can show the burgundy circle for line 12. The older displays present on the Q500s, Q600s, and Q700s show this as a red circle. Likewise, the light aqua green of Line 11 and the gold of line 13 are shown as light blue and tan respectively on the oldest displays.
Technically, QUARTA did not operate buses in Quentinsburgh until 1982, when it merged with the Freedemian Capital Transportation Authority. Prior to the merge, FCTA ran all bus operations. FCTA was founded in 1899, operating a system of electric streetcars that served the downtown area of Quentinsburgh. Up through about the 1930s, the lines extended outside of downtown, reaching as far as the neighborhoods of Hunter Glen, Vera Point, Thurman Park, Historic Dell, and Hayes University. However, as the years went by, in the 1940s FCTA began to buy buses and replace most of the streetcar lines further out from downtown with buses.