Tired of looking at debris on the tracks while waiting for your train to arrive? The MTA is testing out a new portable vacuum system in Queens that aims to make the subways cleaner, safer and faster.
The vacuums are part of the MTA’s ongoing Track Sweep initiative — a four-phase plan developed to dramatically reduce the amount of litter on subway tracks, while also improving the station environment, and reducing track fires and train delay. The transportation organization is testing these powerful vacuums along the Queens Boulevard corridor from the Jamaica-179 St. F line to the Queens Plaza E/M/R lines, which is consists of a total of 20 stations.
The prototypes are also being tested in Manhattan from Lexington Av/53 St. E/M lines on the Queens Boulevard E/F line to W4 St.-Washington Sq. A/B/C/D/E/F/M, on the Sixth Avenue B/D/F/M and Eighth Avenue A/C/E lines, which is a chain of 15 stations.
“Testing these new technologies is a key part in our plan to get the tracks cleaner, and keep them cleaner over the long haul,” said MTA New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim. “Once we’re sure that these units are effective we’ll be ordering additional units to deploy across the system.”
The portable vacuums in testing right now are the first of two prototypes that will be tried out by the MTA, with the second unit to be deployed in two weeks.
According to the MTA, both prototype units are powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries with a battery management system that protects the batteries and load from over current, while both can be moved from station to station on a conventional revenue train. The testing is scheduled to last approximately 30 to 45 days, and if the tests are successful, the MTA will “move aggressively” to acquire and deploy additional cleaning units, the MTA said.
The testing of these units are the third phase in the Track Sweep initiative. The first phase kicked off in June 2016, when the MTA implemented a new cleaning schedule that reprioritizes stations based on the amount of trash usually removed, and increases the frequency of track cleaning.
Phase 2 launched in September 2016, when the MTA started an intensive two-week, systemwide cleaning where more than 500 workers removed litter and debris from the tracks at all of the system’s 469 stations.
During Phase 4, the MTA will roll out a trio of powerful new track vacuum trains in 2017, followed by a second and third in 2018.
In addition, the MTA is purchasing 27 new refuse cars to help move debris out of the track system at a quicker pace. These cars will be equipped with special railings which allow it to secure and transport wheeled garbage containers that are collected at the subway stations.