MTA to tackle subway track trash with ‘Operation Track Sweep’

The MTA is launching a new effort to rid the subway system of track trash.

Beginning Sept. 12, the state-run agency will undertake “Operation Track Sweep,” a two-week long cleaning blitz across all 469 subway stations. More than 500 workers will be assigned to clear the daily detritus as part of the program to reduce track fire-related delays.

“Operation Track Sweep is a critically important part of our overall effort to create a transit system that’s faster, more efficient, and more customer-friendly,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast in a statement.

“There’s no question that a concerted and sustained effort to limit trash on subway tracks will have a significant impact on the efficiency of subway service — getting rid of trash on the tracks helps us decrease the number of track fires, and that means fewer delays.”

Of the 50,436 weekday subway delays recorded in May, the MTA attributed 697 to fires, which could be sparked by garbage left on tracks. (Overcrowding caused the most — more than 20,000 — of those delays.)

The blitz is part of a larger, four-phase effort to keep tracks clear. The agency said it will also increase track cleaning frequency and bring on new equipment to deal with mounting messes.

Under a new schedule that began in June, workers have stepped up from cleaning 34 station tracks every two weeks to 94 station tracks in the same two-week interval; 27 new trash cars will be purchased to help move garbage containers that are collected in subway stations and three new track vacuum trains will be in circulation in subways in 2018, according to the MTA.

The agency, which has edited a video together on the effort, said it’s also in talks with two manufacturers to develop a new portable track vacuum system.

“We’re approaching this as a sustained effort to get the tracks clean, and keep them as clean as possible over the long haul,” said Veronique Hakim, president of NYC Transit, in a statement.