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As subway cleaners get cut, trains get trashier

(Photo by Lane Johnson)

It turns out there’s one thing the MTA isn’t cutting: the amount of trash on trains.

Half of the city’s 22 subway lines got dirtier last year, according to an annual survey of car cleanliness released today, and that’s a sign cuts to train cleaners are starting to take a toll. The M train was found to be the worst, the survey said, with just 32 percent of cars clean.
“I’m worried it will get worse. The cuts are getting even deeper,” said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group that conducted the report.

In 2,200 spot checks made late last year, the group found that only half of subway cars were clean, down from 57 percent in its 2008 survey. Trains were given poor marks if they suffered from dingy floors, bad odors, sticky spots or had trash spewed about.

“There’s just more trash everywhere,” said Kay Hall, 45, a rider from the Upper West Side. “They need to find other things to make cuts to.”

The number of cleaners sweeping out the cars has dropped in the system steadily since 2008. This year, the MTA budgeted for 1,030 cleaners, down by 10 percent from 2008, according to transit figures. The agency had beefed up its scrubbing of the No. 7 and L lines in 2007, but those pilot programs ended last year because of the MTA’s deteriorating finances.

“I think it’s terrible … Subways abroad are so much cleaner,” said Dwight Dunkley, 30, a rider from Staten Island.

Transit officials agreed that the cuts have translated into some subway cars not being “as clean as our customers expect or deserve.” A spokesman said the agency will monitor conditions and redeploy workers to problem area if necessary.

That, and straphangers should stop being such slobs and throw their trash into “proper refuse receptacles," the MTA said.

Tim Herrera contributed to this story


The best and worst lines in 2009, as compared to 2008
Five best lines:
1. (tied) No. 6, 65 percent clean (up from 41 percent)
C train, 65 percent clean (up from 41 percent)
3. (tied) No. 7, 63 percent clean (down from 84 percent)
N, 63 percent clean (up from 29 percent)
5. B, 61 percent clean (down from 75 percent)

Five worst lines:
1. M, 32 percent clean (down from 65 percent)
2. V, 35 percent clean (down from 70 percent)
3. D, 38 percent clean (down from 80 percent)
4. (tied) G, 39 percent clean (down from 51 percent)
R, 39 percent clean (up from 25 percent)
Source: Straphangers Campaign

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