Queens’ M subway line named dirtiest by Straphangers report

Passengers ride the subway alongside garbage. According to a survey by the Straphangers Campaign, the M line is the subway system's dirtiest. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Philip Newman

The M line, which runs to Middle Village, has been designated the dirtiest in the New York City subway system, but the Straphangers Campaign said 11 other lines are in hot pursuit of the grimy title.

The decline in cleanliness is the result of the cuts in numbers of car cleaning workers brought on by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s financial crisis, the Straphangers said.

The transit advocacy agency’s annual Schmutz report said the M line had the fewest clean cars at 32 percent. The No. 6 and C were tied for best at 65 percent for clean cars.

The most improved line was the Astoria-bound N, which rose from 29 percent clean cars to 63 percent. The Flushing to Manhattan No. 7 ranked third with 63 percent clean cars, followed by the E to Jamaica was 52 percent, the Q to 57th Street was 52 percent, the J to Jamaica Center had 47 percent, the F to Jamaica was at 47 percent, the W to Astoria was at 45 percent, the G to Long Island City got 39 percent, the R to Forest Hills had 39 percent and the V to Forest Hills was at 35 percent.

The Straphangers said overall 50 percent of subway cars were rated as clean, a decline from 57 percent in the previous survey.

But the Straphangers said 11 of the 22 subway lines got worse with five lines improved and six lines staying the same.

The 2009 budget of the MTA included cuts in cleaning worker numbers, falling from 1,181 cleaners and 155 supervisors in 2008 to 1,138 cleaners and 146 supervisors in 2009. The 2010 budget for car cleaners is 1,030 cleaners and 123 supervisors.

“It’s as clear as the grime on a subway car floor,” said Gene Russianoff, attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “And more cuts to come means more dirt for subway riders.”

The survey is based on 2,200 observations of subway cars by the Straphangers Campaign between Sept. 3 and Nov. 24, 2009.

The New York City Transit Authority, which operates buses and subways, also conducts its own survey of subway cleanliness.

The Straphangers reported that NYC Transit found that”

• 95 percent of subway cars were clean in the second half of last year

• NYC Transit checks subway cars on weekends while the Straphangers inspects them on weekdays

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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