The MTA has announced that they're ending the pilot program in which the agency removed trash cans from certain subway stations around the city, despite some proven, if counterintuitive, successes in reducing the amount of garbage in the trash can-free stations.
The news about the end of the pilot program came from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who put out a statement celebrating the planned return of trash cans to the subway platforms. "It took the MTA five years, but we are gratified that it recognized the need to end this controversial experiment that showed little to no improvements in riders’ experience," DiNapoli told amNewYork.
The program had been going on since 2011, first with 2 stations, then 10 stations, and then an additional 29 after it was found that the stations without trash cans produced 66 percent less garbage than stations with trash cans, and then an additional 36 percent reduction in the amount of trash hauled away after the program was expanded. Of course, there was no way of knowing how much of that trash was simply eaten by our friends the rats, pizza or other.
DiNapoli had a longstanding beef with the pilot program, and claimed in a 2015 audit that the MTA never bothered to ask customers if they were actually happy with their new trash can-free reality. DiNapoli also claimed that the program didn't reduce rodent activity at the stations without trash cans, but in this experienced subway rider's opinion, not even Doctor damn Doolittle could put an end to rats running around the subway.
Despite the end of the program, the MTA claims that in stations that didn't have trash cans on their mezzanines, there was a 41 percent reduction in track fires, which in turn helps avoid subway delays.
"Because it wasn’t the most efficient way to clean the stations, the MTA is using other ambitious programs to improve station cleanliness including through the highly successful 'Operation Track Sweep,'" MTA spokesperson Beth DeFalco told Gothamist in a statement. Operation Track Sweep, introduced last year with a cute video, involved an increase in station cleanings by MTA employees, one intensive deep clean operation in which 500 employees picked up trash in every station, and the purchase of three new vacuum trains which suck up garbage from the tracks.
"One would think that in his position, the Comptroller would push for the most efficient and cost-effective method to clean stations," DeFlaco continued, "but this just smells like grandstanding." You get it? You get it.