For the second year the Straphanger's Campaign has completed their survey of New York City subway platforms [PDF]. And the state of the platforms? Pretty good, if you don't mind a little graffiti and water damage. And all those overflowing garbage cans you see on your daily commute? That's all in your head.

Last summer the fine folks at the NYPRIG Straphangers Campaign and their interns completed a survey of 251 platforms in 120 subway stations around town (that's 28 percent of the city's 909 subway platforms for those keeping score). Today they released their results. What were they surveying? Twelve platform conditions; below is the percentage of stations in which these conditions were found:

  • the existence of garbage cans (98%)
  • overflowing garbage cans (1%)
  • garbage bags on platform (2%), exposed wiring (8%)
  • rats observed (10%)
  • staircases in disrepair (10%)
  • "substantial" areas of missing tile (16%)
  • broken light fixtures (20%)
  • "substantial" floor cracks (20%)
  • "substantial" graffiti (27%)
  • "substantial" peeling paint (77%)
  • "substantial" water damage (78%).

Interestingly, the survey found that most conditions the group rated got better in the past year—they saw fewer garbage bags, broken staircases, exposed wiring, floor cracks and bad lighting than last year. And once again the surveyors shockingly found not only garbage cans at nearly every station they checked, but almost none of them were overflowing with refuse—and this despite the fact that they surveyed two of the stations where the MTA is still testing out the idea that no platform garbage cans means no garbage. In fact, they found just two overflowing garbage cans in their journey!

The biggest differences between the survey results this year and last year was in the water damage and graffiti categories, the former which was found in 78 percent of those stations surveyed (up from 53% in last year's sample) and the latter which was found in 27 percent (up from 20%). The MTA though, isn't too worried.

Regarding graffiti, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz says the MTA is doing what it can. "Over the past three years we have consistently met our goals of removing 98% of reported graffiti hits on time (within 72 hrs of being reported on painted surfaces within station confines). Graffiti on tiled surfaces is removed daily (upon discovery by a cleaner). Also, the number of reported graffiti hits has steadily declined over the last few years."

Water damage, though, is a different story. "Other than water damage from super storm Sandy, we do not have any empirical data that has shown an increase in water damage" he tells us. "Water intrusion is however a significant problem that is very difficult to treat and even on a day when it doesn’t rain, 13 million gallons of water are pumped from the system." Still, they are working on it, they say. "We have recently instituted a tracking database for water leaks and plan to systematically try to find the root cause of each and devise appropriate treatments."

Finally, before you start chiming in with reports on how your subway stop has gotten so filthy in the past year that the rats have started crawling out of the walls and breakdancing in an effort to earn a buck, remember that this was not a survey of every platform in the city. Maybe they didn't get to yours. You can see the full list of stations surveyed at the end of the report: