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Trash Cans Will Return to Subway Stations After Failed Bid To Stop Litter

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 29, 2017 2:25pm
 The MTA ended its pilot program to remove garbage bins at subway station aimed to reduce refuse after audits found it did the opposite.
The MTA ended its pilot program to remove garbage bins at subway station aimed to reduce refuse after audits found it did the opposite.
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NEW YORK CITY — The MTA will end its counter-intuitive program in which it removed garbage bins from subway stations in a bid to reduce trash — after the experiment only resulted in more litter, officials said.

The agency ended the program, which they launched in 2011, after two audits found it only increased the amount of garbage and caused more track fires at some stations.

"It took the MTA five years, but we are gratified that it recognized the need to end this controversial experiment that showed little to no improvements in riders’ experience. We’re encouraged the agency continues to address cleanliness in other ways," said State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who announced the restoration of trash cans in a statement Tuesday. 

"Straphangers, who have just been burdened with another fare increase, deserve cleaner stations that are free of rats," he added.

The program removed trash cans at 39 stations across the city to reduce the amount of garbage bags and overflowing trash at bins, which can fall on tracks and cause fires, and cut down on the rat populations, the MTA said.

DiNapoli conducted two audits of the program, in 2015 and in February, that found it had little success in reducing the amount of trash.

A spokeswoman for the MTA said the agency ended the program months ago to focus on better measures to keep the stations clean, including using trash-sucking "vacuum trains" dubbed "Operation Clean Sweep," and said DiNapoli's audits played no part in the decision.

"It wasn’t the most efficient way to clean the stations," MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco said in a statement. "The MTA is using other ambitious programs to improve station cleanliness including through the highly successful ‘Operation Track Sweep.'"

"One would think that in his position, the Comptroller would push for the most efficient and cost-effective method to clean stations — but this just smells like grandstanding," DeFalco added.

Since September, the MTA returned trash cans to the mezzanine levels of stations and found that track fires lessened by 41 percent since the start of "Track Sweep."

The pilot to remove the cans started in 2011 at the Eighth Street N station in Greenwich Village and the Main Street 7 station in Flushing then expanded it to 37 other stations the next year.

At the time, the cash-strapped agency removed about 8,500 bags of trash daily and said it was hard to keep up with the refuse.