Here’s more news that sucks.
The MTA has begun testing two new, portable track vacuums that more easily can be deployed to clean up the trash that makes its way onto subway tracks.
Branded as the “vakmobile,” the boxy, prototype vacuum can be carried on trains and rolled across platforms. Crews on the tracks guide its hose over garbage that slovenly straphangers leave behind.
The new gear is part of the MTA’s Track Sweep initiative, an ongoing “multi-pronged plan to dramatically reduce the amount of trash on subway tracks, in the process improving the station environment, and reducing track fires and train delays,” according to the agency.
One of the vacuums has been put to use. The other is expected to be delivered within the next two weeks. The vacuums will be tested for about 30 to 45 days. If the devices are deemed useful, the MTA said it would “move aggressively to acquire and deploy additional units.”
For those keeping score, the vacuums will operate in Manhattan, between the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station on the Queens Boulevard line to the West 4th Street station on both the Eighth Avenue and Sixth Avenue lines.
They’ll also be in Queens, between the Jamaica–179th Street station and the Queens Plaza station of the Queens Boulevard line.
The MTA currently relies on hulking vacuum trains, refuse cars and staff to keep tracks clean. But in June, the agency announced Track Sweep, which brought new crew schedules to re-prioritize cleanups as well as a two-week, systemwide cleaning blitz that involved 500 workers.
Another 27 refuse cars are being purchased and three new vacuum trains will be added to the agency’s arsenal over the next two years as part of the initiative.