MTA reports decrease in trash at subway stations with no cans

THE COURIER/File photo


Getting rid of trash cans from select subway stations has made them less filthy, according to the MTA.

In an effort to improve customer experience and minimize the number of trash bags collected, the MTA launched a pilot removing trash cans from subway stations; 39 stations are currently part of the pilot. The MTA found a 66 percent decrease in trash collected at Phase 1 and 2 stations, and a 36 percent decrease at Phase 3 stations.

“This pilot appears counter-intuitive but when we placed notices at the pilot stations indicating that the cans had been removed and asked the customers for their cooperation, it looks like they listened,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “Given these results, we’ll continue the pilot and monitor and collect additional data at stations.”

Along with a reduction in trash, as well as a reduction in rodent activity, the initiative has had other benefits. Although the number of track fires at pilot stations has remained the same, the rate at which track fires occur at pilot stations is lower than the rate at which they occur in stations with trash cans. Pilot stations also have about the same amount of litter as stations with cans.

Phase 1 of the pilot began in October 2011 with just two stations. Phase 2 added eight more stations to the pilot in September 2012, and Phase 3 brought in 29 more in July 2014. The decision to remove the trash cans was made in an effort to encourage customers to take with them any disposables that they carry into the system. Trash collection and removal is an enormous task, as each day about 40 tons of trash are removed from the system. Refuse trains, which collect trash from almost all subway stations, interfere with the operation of normal passenger trains as they take up track space.

“The reduction in trash in these stations reduced the number of bags to be stored and, consequently, improved the customer experience by reducing the potential bags visible to customers as well as the potential food available to rodents,” Senior Vice President of Subways Joseph Leader said.  “Additionally, the significant reduction in trash reduced the need for trash pickups in the pilot stations, which freed up personnel for deployment to other stations.”

The 14 Queens subway stations that are part of the pilot include the following:

  • 111th Street (A)
  • 65th Street (M, R)
  • 121st Street (J/Z)
  • 111th Street (J)
  • 104th Street (J/Z)
  • Woodhaven Boulevard (J/Z)
  • 85 St-Forest Pkwy (J)
  • 75 St-Elders Lane (J)
  • Flushing – Main Street (7)
  • Myrtle Avenue (J, M, Z)
  • Metropolitan Avenue (M)
  • Fresh Pond Road (M)
  • Forest Avenue (M)
  • Seneca Avenue (M)



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