MTA Unveils Plan to Help Remove Rats From Subways

The MTA unveiled on Monday a new program meant to lower the number of rats in the subway by removing trash from stations.

John Gaito, MTA chief of station operations, said during a transit meeting on Monday that the addition of two "trash trains" means garbage bags are being left out for shorter periods of time on station platforms.

Workers remove trash from a station overnight by taking thick plastic bags from large metal bins and either stashing them in a storage room or lining them up on a platform for removal by the trash train.

With more frequent pick-ups, there will be less smelly or leaking trash bags — which serve as snack food for rodents — on platforms awaiting pickup at 6 a.m. Now, there are about 75 bags awaiting platform pickup daily — that's down from 107 bags, according to the MTA.

The authority removes about 40 tons of garbage a day from the subway system. The MTA will also test removing trash cans entirely from platforms at two subway stations: the 8th Street stop of the N / R train in Manhattan and the Flushing-Main Street stop of the No. 7 train.

The authority hopes that move will encourage riders to dispose of their garbage outside of the subway system.

The initiatives comes as 84 percent of subway customers surveyed by the MTA reported being satisfied with the overall comfort and convenience of the subway, up six percentage points from last year.

Crime is also on the rise in the subway, the MTA said during the meeting. Major felonies are up 17 percent and robberies were up 8.6 percent over last year.

Subway felonies steadily dropped for over a decade, before beginning to climb in 2009.

But, as crime rose, arrests in the subway went down. There were 12 percent fewer arrests this year compared to last.

Pressed by board members for an explanation, Transit President Tom Prendergast said, "I can't answer that. We'll have to get an answer for you."