The subway is disgusting. We know this because just thinking about this video of a man licking his shoe gives us agita. Studies have been conducted on the amount of butt-skin that drifts softly through the air and into your open mouth while you wait, every day, for the train, and now, the Straphangers Campaign has measured the filth levels at 862 platforms at stations around the city. Their unsurprising conclusion is that many subway stations boast a layer of hell so grimy that Dante himself refused to touch the handrails without a Handi Wipe.
The agency assessed all but a few subway stations, avoiding only those that were closed or under construction, and took into consideration factors like overflowing garbage, exposed wiring and graffiti. The city's 525 underground stations were additionally assessed for rats, broken lighting fixtures, substantial peeling paint and substantial water damage.
Let's talk about rats: The beasts were observed on subway platforms at a curiously low 13 percent of stations, but unlike exposed wires and peeling paint, rats have the ability to lumber out of the sight of nosy survey-takers, meaning we can confidently say there were countless more. It goes without saying there are ALWAYS rats down on the trackbed. The Bronx has the most, with platform sightings in 21 percent of stations, and Brooklyn comes in second with 15 percent. (Manhattan has the lowest with 10 percent.) Horrifying though it may be, rats have actually decreased by three percent from last year.
The MTA did, however, announce recently its plans to attempt to curb rat populations, having targeted the 25 most infested stations and installed new, more secure doors to refuse rooms, where the garbage/rat food is stored. It's also increasingly turned to rat poison, as well as a rat birth control regime, currently in its pilot stages.
Percentage-wise, the biggest scourge throughout the system was water damage, observed at 82 percent of the underground stations, and floor cracks, observed at 39 percent of all stations. There's some graffiti, there's some peeling paint, but who cares, right? They're not rats. You're never going to see a baby floor crack gruesomely devour the face of a larger, dead floor crack, no matter how long the G takes to show up.