MTA plan would trash the garbage cans

Commuters exit the Wall Street subway station. (Aug.

Commuters exit the Wall Street subway station. (Aug. 29, 2011) (Credit: AP)

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To cut down on litter on subway platforms, the MTA may trash garbage cans altogether.

The cash-strapped agency may remove all the cans from some platforms if everything goes well with a test under way at two stations.

The MTA is banking on riders taking their trash with them, or simply bringing less on trains.

If the pilot program, which began two weeks ago at the 8th Street N and R station in Manhattan and Flushing/Main Street No. 7 station in Queens, is successful over the next two months, it could expand to other stations.

"It's just an experiment to see how much we can reduce the amount of refuse that we pick up," said John Gaito, the MTA's vice president and chief officer for subways. "We expect people to bring garbage, but we'd like them to bring less food. . . . Food attracts rodents."

The test is being done in response to the agency's difficulty picking up about 8,820 garbage bags each day across the system, Gaito said at Monday's transit committee meeting.

Eight trains and six trucks haul away trash each day at an annual cost of about $32 million. But refuse trains miss one in three stops because they're full or late.

The station cleaner at the 8th Street station likes the lack of trash bins, Gaito said, but the one at the busy Main Street station isn't a fan, because he has to pick up after straphangers who leave trash behind.

Transit advocates and riders were left scratching their heads. "It seems like an odd solution to a legitimate problem," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

Riders at the 8th Street station, where imprints from the removed cans were still visible Monday, echoed his opinion.

"It doesn't make sense to me," said New York University student Naleeka Dennis, 21. "Not everyone is going to carry their garbage around."

Transport Workers Union spokesman Jim Gannon called the plan "pretty ridiculous."

He said, "It's like saying were going to fight crime by taking the cops off the street."

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