The MTA will be taking out the trash cans in 29 stations along the J and M line after a pilot program at 10 locations less garbage getting hauled out, MTA officials said Monday.The report on a pilot that started at two stations in October 2011 and grew to 10 in September 2012 showed that 66% fewer trash bags were being removed and the appearance of moderate-to-heavy amounts of litter during the day dropped to 30% in September, from 41% a year prior.
"Customer's behavior changed at those stations," Joe Leader, vice president of subways, told an MTA board committee. "They knew there were no trash cans so they took their trash somewhere else."
Without trash cans, however, there was a 3.2% increase in the amount of garbage removed from the pilot station tracks, which poses a risk of a fire. The rat population decreased or remained unchanged.
Leader said the program will now test how subway riders handle their refuse on an entire line beginning in a few months. Garbage cans will be removed at 29 stations along the entire J line and the M line from Middle Village in Queens to Essex Street in Manhattan.
An MTA board member, Mark Page, questioned how the pilot affects garbage outside of the stations.
"I actually don't believe that the garbage is somehow disappearing into the ether," Page said. "It's either getting dumped in the street or somebody else is collecting it."
Meanwhile, there were riders who were skeptical that their fellow passengers would tote their trash outside the subway system.
"People are slobs. They throw things on the platform," said Norman Bernstein, a 77-year-old office supply salesman from midtown west.
Brendan Buckthal, an 18-year-old student in Union Square, was optimistic the pilot would work after a visit to London.
"It makes sense," he said. "I remember going to London once and there were no trash cans anywhere, and there was no trash anywhere."