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Graffiti, Exposed Wiring and Rats Plague Subway Platforms, Report Says

By Dana Varinsky | October 31, 2013 12:48pm
 A Q train.
A Q train.
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DNAinfo/Michael Ip

NEW YORK — More graffiti and exposed wiring can be found on city subway platforms this year compared to last year, according to a new report from an advocacy organization.

Nearly a third of the 832 platforms that staff and volunteers for the New York Public Interest Research Group's Straphangers Campaign inspected had "substantial graffiti," according to their third annual "State of the Platforms" report released Wednesday.

Just 27 percent of platforms had high levels of graffiti last year, compared to 32 percent this year, the report said.

"We found what many riders know from bitter daily experience: Many subway platforms are grim and dreary," Straphangers Campaign field organizer Jason Chin-Fatt said.

The Straphangers Campaign also found more exposed wiring, with sightings on 24 percent of platforms, compared with 8 percent last year.

The amount of rats spotted by the 20 observers dispatched from June through August remained about the same as last year, with rodents seen on 13 percent of platforms, compared with 10 percent last year.

The MTA replied to the report by saying the agency is on track to complete more than 53,000 repairs by the end of the year, representing a 36 percent increase. A spokesman said safety concerns trump aesthetic issues.

"Safety is our top priority when it comes to the condition of our stations and platforms and all safety-related defects are repaired in short order, the spokesman said in a statement.

"The items in the Straphangers report highlight elements that would be extremely costly to keep in perfect condition and would do little, if anything to either improve service or make stations safer," he continued. "We have to prioritize projects using available funds to address the most pressing needs first."

According to the report's findings, 82 percent of underground platforms have substantial water damage.

The platforms had less peeling paint this year and about the same amount of rats, broken staircases and handrails, and water damage, the report said.

Workers evaluated 20 conditions at the stations, including overflowing garbage cans, broken light fixtures and missing tiles.

Bronx platforms were reported to have the most rats and water damage. Evaluators found that platforms in Queens had the most broken light fixtures, while peeling paint was most common in Brooklyn.

The Straphangers Campaign said the past two surveys were based on a random sample of 120 subway platforms, while this year's includes all stations that are not currently closed or under construction.