Good news from the front as the MTA's guerrilla war against rats intensifies.
Our relentless rodent enemy is on the run and the forces of cleanliness and order are starting to smell victory -- or at least air that's less noxious -- in a select group of 10 subway stations.
The MTA has removed trash cans from the platforms and concourses in the stations to test whether can-less stations are less rat-friendly. The logic is sound. Stations minus refuse cans become stations without trash rooms -- or platforms -- packed high with garbage awaiting pickup.
The free all-day rat buffet is closed.
The MTA likes what it has seen so far -- a rodent count that has decreased in places (or at worst stayed the same) and a garbage-bag count that has fallen by 66 percent in the 10 pilot stations.
But one finding is surprising. In stations without trash cans, passengers seemed inclined to keep the spaces neat even if it meant carrying their trash out.
The risk was that riders might just toss their half-eaten sandwiches and not-quite-empty potato chip bags to the platform floor and save rodents the trouble of gnawing through the MTA's heavy plastic bags.
True, the MTA did see a slight uptick of 3.2 percent in trash volume on track beds -- where rodents tend to live when they're not dining out. But it remains remarkable that a city that was once considered chaos incarnate is now intent on keeping its subway stations clean.
Not that the MTA wants to push the point too far: It has no plans to remove trash cans in high-volume stations like Times Square or Grand Central. We're still New Yorkers.
But the MTA is expanding the pilot program to add 29 stations along the M and J lines. With a mix of elevated and underground track beds on those lines, the agency is hoping for a more complex petri dish.
We're hoping for a final twilight push against the furry little critters that scurry in the shadows.
Meanwhile, we have to keep on minding our manners: Whatever we take in to the subway we have to take out.