A photograph of what appears to be human excrement splattered on a Manhattan subway train won an especially disgusting contest from the union representing MTA transit workers.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100 announced the “Trash Train” contest back in October to call for the MTA to restore roughly 80 terminal cleaner positions — workers responsible for cleaning trains as the end of the line.
Tania Garcia, an MTA station cleaner from the Lower East Side — and a union member herself — snapped the photo on a 6 train in Manhattan. The image received the most votes on the contest website and was awarded a $500 check.
“It was horrific,” said Garcia, of the scene. Her picture received 263 votes.
Garcia said she happened across the feces when she was attempting to escape a foul-scented train car on the 6 line one night. She was commuting to work when she decided to switch seats by traveling between train cars—that’s when she noticed the excrement piled on the outside of the train, where the two cars are coupled together.
“We seriously need more cleaners to help us out with this,” Garcia said.
The union launched the contest during was a bitter public fight over its next contract with the MTA. the MTA and union leadership have since come to an agreement on a new contract, which now must be approved by a vote among all union members.
There are currently 378 terminal car cleaners in the subway system, according to the MTA. The latest cut to the position, carried out in the summer of 2018, has meant that trains are only cleaned at one terminal, instead of both, during overnight hours.
But those trains can travel hours before workers can clean them, according to the union. Terminals like Coney Island in Brooklyn and Norwood-205th Street in the Bronx no longer have any overnight cleaners to tidy up late-night trains coming in, the union has said.
Nelson Rivera, a union vice president, said the MTA had agreed to hire 12 more terminal cleaners since the contest launched. Six are expected to be deployed at Norwood-205th Street in the Bronx and the other half are expected to be sent to Jamaica-179th Street in Queens.
“Its start but it’s still not enough,” said Rivera.
There are about 204 soiled car incidents per month out of 2.1 million trips, according to the MTA, which referred to Transit President Andy Byford’s statement on the contest from late last month.
“This is insulting to our professional cleaners who work hard every day to ensure trains are clean for six million riders,” Byford said at the time. “On occasion, when messes are left behind, there may be a gap before cleaners can get to a particular train. From my daily observations, cleaners do an outstanding job which I very much appreciate.”