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MTA continuing test to keep trash cans out of subway stations


Trash Credit: An outline of a trash can removed in October still remains at the 8th St. station (Marc Beja)

The MTA is quietly continuing a test program aimed at cutting down on trash by removing garbage cans from subway stations.

The agency took away the bins in two stations -- the Flushing/Main Street No. 7 station and the 8th Street N/R station -- in October for a two-month trial.

But the pilot is still ongoing, and transit sources said they plan to extend it through at least next month.

While officials ducked questions about the program from board members during Monday’s transit committee meetings, Carmen Bianco, the MTA’s senior vice president for subways, previously told amNewYork that initial findings found it to be successful.?

“We’re seeing less trash on the track and platform side,” Carmen Bianco told amNewYork at last month’s board meetings, adding that he thought riders were getting used to the receptacle-free stations. An MTA spokesman said there has been no decision to expand or cancel the program. He declined to answer any other questions about it.

“They may not be getting garbage on the platform, but it’s going onto the tracks,” said Paul Piazza, a union representative for stations. “The rats gotta love it.”

Station cleaners at the affected stations gave mixed reviews.

“It’s working,” said a station cleaner at Main Street. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She said she collects about six bags of trash left behind by straphangers in an eight-hour shift, instead of the usual 25, though she admitted a lot of trash is left on the train, and even more is blowing down to the tracks

A second cleaner wasn’t convinced. “Cans would be more helpful to me,” he said, adding that riders often hand him their trash or try to toss it in his dustpan. Finding trash left on payphones, benches and in crevices of the station has “turned [his] job into an Easter egg hunt,” he added.

Bill Henderson of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee said the agency would likely expand the pilot if it resulted in less trash being hauled away from the stations.

“I presume that if it works well, they’re going to want to use it elsewhere,” Henderson said. “It doesn’t seem to make sense to do the whole pilot and then just stick it in two stations.”

Riders seemed irritated by the program.

“After I eat this, I’m probably going to throw it on the floor,” said Darren Pennicott, 19, of the Bronx, while chomping down on a hot dog at the 8th Street station. “I’d throw it out, but there’s no can.”

“I actually see more trash here now,” said Kelsey Farmer, 25, of Greenwich Village, as he looked at trash on the track and at the station’s soiled floor, where the imprint of a garbage can removed in October was still clearly visible.

“There should be at least one trash can on each side,” he said, “at minimum.”

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