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THE COURIER / Photo by Cristabelle Tumola
THE COURIER / Photo by Cristabelle Tumola
An MTA pilot program hopes to eliminate trash in the subway.

An MTA pilot program that removed trash cans from two subway stations — one in Queens and one in Manhattan — to help alleviate garbage problems such as rodents and track fires has been extended to eight more stations.

Last fall, trash cans were removed from the Flushing-Main Street No. 7 line and Manhattan 8th Street “R” line stations. After positive results from those two locations, the MTA decided to add two stations each in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan to the pilot for six more months, starting on September 2.

In Queens, these include the “A” line’s 111th Street stop and the 65th Street station of the “M/R” line.

According to the transit agency, the cans removed last year reduced the number of trash bags by 67 percent at Main Street and 50 percent at 8th Street. Also, the stations were cleaner and there wasn’t an increase in track fires.

“After removing the trash cans at the initial pilot stations, customers for the most part took their trash with them,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Each year, NYC Transit removes about 14,000 tons of trash from the subway, said the agency. Despite more frequent bag removal, reinforced trash storage rooms and temper-proof cans, garbage still piles up, attracting rats and landing on train tracks, causing fires.

Commuters heading to work and the free papers handed out at subway stops may be a large part of the trash, according to a 2008 analysis of about 75,000 pounds of subway station garbage, which showed that the most common item thrown out at subway stations was newspapers, at 44 percent.

Though trash is an issue, a 2011 Straphangers Campaign subway platform survey found that garbage was not the biggest problem at subway stations. Observing 250 subway platforms, surveyors only saw one overflowing trash can and 15 garbage bags; rats were found on 11 percent of platforms. Problems such as broken lighting fixtures, substantial water damage and peeling paint were found at 50 to 79 percent of platforms.

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