After a report emerged last night that the MTA was planning on cutting overnight cleaning shifts in subway stations, the agency is claiming that not only are cleaning shifts being maintained, but that they're hiring even more station cleaners in conjunction with part-time MTA chairman Joe Lhota's subway action plan.
Last night, the Post reported the MTA had eliminated late night track cleaning positions on the R line, and was planning on eliminating them throughout the entire system by the middle of 2018. However, MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek emphatically denies overnight cleanings are being reduced.
"The MTA is absolutely, unequivocally, not getting rid of overnight cleaners—we are actually adding staff to ramp up cleaning," he told Gothamist in a statement. "As part of the Subway Action Plan, NYC Transit is doing more station and track cleaning than ever—with 73 newly hired station cleaners, new equipment and additional personnel, focusing schedules to the times when it’s needed most—right after the rush hours—to keep trash from piling up and making its way to tracks where it can cause fires and delays."
The Post story suggested that any potential cutback would be a cost-cutting move, to save money on salaries for overnight track workers. However, the MTA disputed that claim, pointing to the 73 additional cleaning workers hired and investment in more vacuum cars. The MTA also says track cleaning efforts have increased the amount of garbage collected up from 7.6 million pounds of trash in 2016 to 12 million pounds of trash so far this year, and also photographic evidence of a mountain of garbage that track workers picked up during a summer overnight cleaning at the Carroll Street station, an effort that yielded what they said was a record 2,847 bags of trash:
Just a piece of a record amount of garbage bags filled in a single night, according to the MTA. (MTA)
There has been a focus on post-rush hour cleaning on the R line, according to the MTA, but this does not mean overnight cleaning is ending.