A counterintuitive "pilot program" aimed at reducing garbage in subway stations by removing trash cans appears, against all logic, to be working.
The idea of removing the trash cans came to the MTA in 2011 as a possible method of combating rats (though as David Lynch taught us, the real solution is to stop flinging your used tissues everywhere). But when the cans were removed from 10 stations, the agency found that not only did rat populations decrease, the amount of litter decreased, too.
"Customers' behavior changed at those stations," said Joe Leader, senior vice president of the MTA's department of subways, said at a hearing on Monday. "They knew there were no trash cans, so they took their trash somewhere else."
Are these the same straphangers who use the subway as hair salons/testicle ventilation facilities? Are we to believe that subway riders, the same people who voluntarily hold rats in their mouths, have the foresight to throw garbage in its designated receptacle before descending the subway steps? Yes, the MTA says. Yes. Can the MTA look this photo in the eyes and maintain its theory with a straight face?
And yet, the agency will expand the program (does hauling away a few trash cans constitute a "program"?) to 29 stations along the J and M lines, though for practical reasons, high-volume stations will retain their bins. So far, it has collected 66 percent fewer bags at can-less stations.
Reactions from riders have been mixed, though as one pointed out to CBS: “If you take the subways in Japan they have the same thing, people take their garbage home with them instead of throwing it out and it doesn’t pile up.” You hear that, world? We're just like Japan! The next time the MTA rolls out a program, though, it'd better be people-pushers. That would go over so well here.