State-of-the-Art Car (SOAC) Gallery  

The "State-of-the-Art Cars" (SOAC) were a train of experimental rapid transit units that the United States Department of Transportation sponsored in the 1970s to develop a standard transit car design. The experimental units were tested in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and a few other cities. To learn more about them, click here to see their roster profile.


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The SOAC approaches Main Street while in Skokie Swift service, heading south from Dempster to Howard on January 19, 1974. The pantographs were specially added to the ends of each car so the unit could run on the Skokie Swift. (Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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After switching ends, the SOAC is pulling into the southbound platform of the Skokie/Dempster stations on February 8, 1975. Note the adjustable flaps on the platforms (identifiable by their slightly different color): the SOAC is wider than the standard CTA car, requiring more platform clearance. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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The interior of the SOAC was luxurious by transit standards, including carpeted floors and spacious, stuffed seats. This photo dates from June 14, 1974, when the State-of-the-Art Cars were assigned to the "D" Line of the New York MTA system. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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After tests were over, the SOAC was retired and ended up at the Seashore Trolley Museum. The car's lack of maintenance is clear from the rust and chipping/fading paint seen in this exterior head on view from July 2000. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

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Because the SOAC -- based on the NYC MTA "B" Division car -- was too wide to travel on most of the CTA system, a test was set up on the Skokie Swift. To handle both the SOAC and CTA cars, motorized flaps were installed on both platforms at Dempster and one at Howard so that the width of the platforms could be modified as needed. To reach the one platform at Howard, a crossover was set up at Ridge Avenue -- seen here on January 19, 1975 -- and the SOAC operated single-track between Howard and the crossover. (Photo by Art Peterson)

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The SOAC is at Seashore Trolley Museum in July 2001 with CTA® cars 6599-6600 visible in the background. To the left of SOAC, are two examples of rapid transit motor trucks. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)