MTA will remove trash cans from more stations to reduce trash
The MTA is planning to expand a program that tries to reduce underground trash by removing garbage cans from subway platforms, amNewYork has learned.
The agency took away bins in two stations -- the Flushing/Main Street No. 7 station and the 8th Street N/R station -- in October for what was supposed to be a two-month trial; it's still ongoing. And New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast said he wants to pull cans from more stations.
"Two doesn't give you enough for a sample," Prendergast said. "We're going to expand it."
Prendergast said he wasn't sure which, or how many stations would lose garbage pails, but said the pilot “wouldn't go to scores” of stations.
“It wouldn't work at a Grand Central or at a Penn Station,” Prendergast said, noting the heavy ridership at those stations, but said the program seems to be working at Main Street, the 10th busiest station last year.
MTA board member Andrew Albert said he hasn't been briefed on the new plan, but thinks it might work in lesser-traveled stations.
“If it's really scant usage in the trash cans and apparently no litter around, then that may be a good candidate at the pilot,” Albert said, though he is doubtful straphangers will hold onto their garbage instead of tossing it on the floor.
“That means taking newspapers and used coffee cups and taking them out of the station and searching for another trash can,” Albert said. “I don't see people doing that.”
An MTA spokesman wouldn't discuss details of the plan last week, saying they haven't been finalized.
The Port Authority removed all garbage cans at its PATH stations years ago, mostly because they are considered “a security concern related to hiding places for suspicious devices,” according to spokesman Ron Marsico, who said going can-free “helps keep our stations and trains cleaner and safer.”
One tweak being made for the MTA program's expansion -- expected as early as this summer -- is notifying riders. When the pilot started in October, the MTA quietly removed the bins without telling straphangers.
“We need to explain to people what we're doing and why we're doing it,” Prendergast said.
Derrick Echevarria of the Transport Workers Union scoffed at the idea.
“We're spending money to change people's ways?” he asked rhetorically. “Let's spend money to clean the stations.”
Bill Henderson, of the MTA's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, said even if the pilot helps the agency cut down on trash, it isn't fair to riders.
“There's some level of customer convenience that has to go into the calculation,” Henderson said. “There's a certain obligation to provide people with things that they need. And I think that includes having a trash can or two around.”
Straphangers at 8th Street questioned the pilot's effectiveness.
“There is so much litter around so people aren't holding their garbage,” said Jacqueline Ali, 23, while clutching an empty soda cup before boarding a Brooklyn-bound train at 8th Street last week.
“It makes no sense,” added Marc Sylvain, a 26-year-old actor who works at a restaurant near the station.
“It's dirty everywhere,” he said as he looked at the platform, where there are still dirt imprints from where garbage cans were stationed until October.