The Trash Train

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jim O'Grady, WNYC's transit reporter, explains the latest MTA plan to fight litter by removing trash barrels from subway platforms.


Jim O'Grady

Comments [44]


I agree that one way to fight litter is to remove trash cans. People should be responsible for the garbage they create. Garbage cans on street corners in my neighborhood have only resulted in more garbage, either overflowing from the cans or on the street. People stop their cars to dispose of bags of trash in these cans. But any effort like this has to be complemented with education, started in the earliest grades. There's a whole generation of students in urban areas who were never taught the basics of conservation and keeping the shared space free of litter.

Oct. 27 2011 01:44 PM
Peter Brownscombe from East Village

The trash cans were removed from London's subways system because Britain had a history of people putting bombs into them. Come to think of it, not a bad reason to take them out of the New York system 'before' something happens.

Oct. 27 2011 12:51 AM
Stefan from NJ

There is such Subway System already:
Warsaw, Poland. No single trash can on the platforms and I'll surprise you but there is no trash as well. It is clean as a lobby at the best UES residential buildings. Which does not mean it will work i NYC. By the way, can you imagine what kind of explosives or chemical bomb one can put in those big, black cans? "See something say something" wouldn't work in this case. Keep it in mind

Oct. 26 2011 05:11 PM
john from office

Becky, I just luvvvssss my chicken!!!

Oct. 26 2011 04:01 PM
Kim from Brooklyn

Thank you, mergatroyd spivey from east new york…now we are getting down to it.
These are the reasons. It's laughable that the MTA spokesperson said we should use the logic of the National Parks…tread lightly on the earth, bring out what you bring in. Read mergatroyd spivey from east new york, that is what is really going on.

Oct. 26 2011 12:32 PM
mergatroyd spivey from east new york

i didn't hear the whole interview, but blaming the workers in t/a as not having enough, or not wanting to pick up trash is ridiculous. as a former train operator, who has worked trash trains for t/a (7 ash, southern and eastern pick-ups, #1 and #2 pick-ups, those assignments are plum for seniority (making overtime), but a few years ago management decided these 30 year veterans made too much money and started pulling trains off the road early during a tour for no other reason than, animosity between managers? i don't know. then they came out with day-time garbage trains. (if you can't pick up at night, how you would during the day is beyond me). never mind the majority of dispatchers and managers who treat the pick-ups as political footballs to blame lateness and dirty stations on, when sometimes the timing doesn't allow the train to stop, and the dispatcher aren't instructed, or willing to work with garbage trains to allow them to get the garbage. ( t.a. receives federal funding. a big source is "on time" performance. garbage trains are an easy mark to blame, just by the nature of their job. bottom line? transit could give a less of a rat's a** about your dirty station, you think the t.a. board, or any upper management ride the subways as a necessity? all they really care about is the huge trough of state and fed money they receive, and how to hold on to it, or spread it to their peers through contracts. spend less on the public, keep more for themselves.

Oct. 26 2011 11:49 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

The "logic" for this plan is to further reduce services. That's it. It's just another way for the MTA to "save" money.

..and why does it have to be a bucket of chicken? Any eating on the train is disgusting and generates trash, chicken or no chicken.

Oct. 26 2011 11:44 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

I missed the beginning of the segment and so didn't hear the logic behind this explained. It's definitely counterintuitive on the surface...I wonder if an unintended consequence could be the erosion of people's instinct to not litter; that folks who would use the can, may start littering out of frustration, and it then becomes habitual...

Oct. 26 2011 11:37 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

@E Vauchee from Brooklyn

Very funny! No cat is going to tangle with a 3 foot rat!

Oct. 26 2011 11:36 AM
Dr Sherlock Litter from brooklyn

Yes we do need another public " no littering" campaign. I invented my zany comic attention getting DR LITTER character in l993 for precisely that purpose. see youtube search dr sherlock litter for image of the doctor of litter.

Oct. 26 2011 11:32 AM
Kim from Brooklyn

Are you kidding…we need more trash cans everywhere not less. There are so many bins that are bursting with garbage…people line up their garbage around the bin in their effort to at least place the garbage near a container. It is ridiculous that NYC can't clean itself up. The merchant who said he doesn't have bins outside of his establishment is not doing his share. The garbage just ends up in his neighborhood on the ground next to a bin. When you see someone hosing down a sidewalk around an apartment building or a restaurant you want to jump for joy. If only every building owner could clean up around their building we'd have a clean city. I think the citizens of NYC want to help but how can we help if we have no garbage cans?

Oct. 26 2011 11:31 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

@ A Chicken: No, they meant chicken.

Oct. 26 2011 11:31 AM

Lazy, unimaginative cost-cutting that will do more harm to the environment. The already overfull street garbage will now be flooding the streets with litter.
My guess is the major tourist stops will never be effected by this restriction though, just those stations used by ordinary New Yorkers, as usual.

Oct. 26 2011 11:28 AM
Phil from Bronx, NY but work in Manhattan

Anyone know how many people the MTA employs to clear the bins on the platforms (including the drivers of the trash cars)? I am worried that those jobs would be eliminated by this "experiment".

Oct. 26 2011 11:25 AM

I believe that the point of the caller (who was rudely dismissed) asking about experimental control groups was to suggest that this "experiment" be a properly designed test that can be quantitatively assessed. The alternative, subjective analysis of anecdotal evidence, is just a huge waste of time and money. Surely, the MTA has access to people that know how to formally analyze and improve operational systems, no?

Oct. 26 2011 11:23 AM
A chicken

Hmmm indeed! Can we switch this to bagels??

Oct. 26 2011 11:22 AM
Maggie from Brooklyn

My question: Are they working in tandem with the sanitation department to then increase pick up of the trash bins on the street -esp near the subway entrances? My neighborhood is regularly OVERFLOWING with trash in the street trash cans.

Oct. 26 2011 11:22 AM
Kusalee from Manhattan

A Citywide Campaign Against Littering is needed first!!!

New York is dirtier than many cities in developing world.

Oct. 26 2011 11:21 AM

The exact opposite needs to happen at the Kingston-Throop C train stop in Bed-Stuy. On any given day, at any given time it is filthy despite regular cleaning efforts. A mint could be made if litter violation tickets were given out there.

Oct. 26 2011 11:21 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

There are relatively few conscientious individuals who will hold onto their trash until they exit the station and I believe the eventual result will be that more trash will be tossed onto the tracks and there will not only be more rats, but more trash fires on the tracks.

Good luck, MTA, when your master plan backfires.

Oct. 26 2011 11:19 AM
dan from Manhattan

As an architect, we know of various examples where public spaces are designed to a higher standard of finishes previously thought to be vulnerable to vandalism and destruction but yet less vandalism occurs because people actually respect them more.
Perhaps if the MTA actually cleans the stations and provide an environment that we DON'T want to litter and soil, perhaps people will take care of it. Our stations (with the exception of a few new stations) are pooly designed and ripe for vandalism.

Oct. 26 2011 11:19 AM
E Vauchee from Brooklyn

This is an absolutely ridiculous, insane idea. We need trash cans! There are tons of homeless cats out there how about giving them a home & letting them take care of the rats? I wouldn't want the cats to be hurt but I understand they do kill rats. Do they really believe MOST people will carry out their trash & walk to find a trash can?

Oct. 26 2011 11:17 AM
Zaftig from Brooklyn

I don't understand this tactic... I don't think it will work, because many people who have a piece of litter will be annoyed with it and throw it away onto the tracks. And if they are going to remove trash cans, they should outlaw food and remove vendors and sellers of items that can create trash, no?

Oct. 26 2011 11:17 AM
Katie from Brooklyn

This is a terrible idea. All the people who litter will continue to litter, and those of us who are conscientious will be punished by having to tote around their garbage for the entire length of the trip. It's just another example of the MTA cutting corners at the expense of their customers.

Oct. 26 2011 11:17 AM
The Truth from Becky

Uhh did chuck say a "box of chicken wings?!!!" - wonder why that particular fare?

Things that make you go hmmmm???

Oct. 26 2011 11:16 AM
Robert from NYC

I've seen those trains and I appreciate them whether they take a long time or not they're doing a job and it's a good job. Yes, they should be compensated better for that work but we should not eliminate them.

Oct. 26 2011 11:15 AM
Seong-Mi from New Hyde Park

This plan makes perfect sense to me. I will add my small bit of trash to an already overflowing trash bin without a second thought but I would never throw any amount of trash on the ground or tracks if the bin is not there at all. I believe most people are civilized enough to do the same.

Oct. 26 2011 11:14 AM
Neek from Queens

In the Taipei metro system no food, drinks or chewing gum is allowed. And no one breaks the rule, in fact most everyone self polices one another. It could work in NYC, but public education has to come at the same time as disappearing trash bins.

Oct. 26 2011 11:14 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

This seems like a foolish idea. I suspect this has more to do with the ineptness of the MTA to manage anything properly, including emptying trash cans. It's not like less trash will exist. This will just push more work onto the city garbage collectors. Living in an area that already has too few and consistently overflowing trashcans, it already seems the city can't (or won't) handle any more.

Oct. 26 2011 11:13 AM
Robert from NYC

What idiots. Have you ever heard of such idiocy like this? They're just wrong, WRONG. People will throw the trash on the platforms and into the tracks and on the trains as they do anyway but it will get worse. There is nothing to discuss, it's wrong and instead there should be promotion of using trash cans. Those posters that promote cleaner subways and being courteous they do work, it's been proven before that they work so just use the trash cans.

Oct. 26 2011 11:12 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

How about more signs reading "Keep trash and rats out! Leave your trash here" pointing to large trash bins outside of the station entrances?

Oct. 26 2011 11:12 AM
David from West Hempstead

The scale of implementation seems too small to induce substantial behavior modification.

Oct. 26 2011 11:12 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Oh yeah, dumb idea. Watch the trash pile up in the tracks. Watch the track fires soar because of the "trash in the tracks".

The subways are not national parks. Provide trash cans!!

Oct. 26 2011 11:11 AM
Marisol from Jersey City

It sounds like a crazy idea, but the PATH platforms and stations don't have trashcans (they haven't for at least the past 8 years that I've been taking the train) and there's not a lot of litter - barely any. My concern for this MTA idea is that it will lead to more job layoffs - less station cleaners, no trash train operators, etc.

Oct. 26 2011 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

First off - it is just an experiment. Give them credit for that.

Oct. 26 2011 11:10 AM
andrew from Greenpoint

Might as well take the trash cans out of the stations. I've lost count on how many times I've seen people throw trash on to the tracks even though they're standing right next to a can.

Oct. 26 2011 11:08 AM
yourgo from astoria

I thought they were removing the trash cans for safety reasons? so no one can drop a bomb in the cans and leave.

Also cant they invent a vacuum train car that can drive around the subway system and just vacuum up all the junk on the botton of the tracks. Some stations are really nasty and need to be cleaned.

Oct. 26 2011 11:06 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

I remember the subways of the 70's. No joke THOSE were disgusting times. Trains today are a luxury compared to those times.

Oct. 26 2011 10:56 AM
jonn knoxx

Also, the nyc subway is the only place I have ever been threatened by a someone with a knife.

Oct. 26 2011 10:56 AM
Melissa M from brooklyn

I had been taking the subway for approx 8 years, I recently switched to xpress bus and yesterday had to take a subway for the 1st time in several weeks.

I was amazed how I had forgotten how dirty and filthy everything is!
Rampant smell of piss everywhere. Rats, litter, and generations of dried scum all over the walls and floor.

Oct. 26 2011 10:53 AM
jonn knoxx from NYC

So far the MTA has:

-reduced train service
-removed employees and booths from stations
-they dont keep it clean as it is
What do you think people are going to do with their litter?? It's going on the floor of the station or on the floor of the trains.

Yet they continue to jack up fares!! WTF??
The nyc subway is the most disgusting wretched place in all of nyc.

Rats, several layers of scrapable plague cover everything in that hellhole.

The problem is that people have accepted how disgusting it is. Would you ever eat in a restaurant or a hotel or even get a drinkin a bar that was as putrid as the subway is??

People should be mad as hell.

Oct. 26 2011 10:51 AM
Susan from nyc

If there are no trash cans people will just throw their trash on the platform or the tracks. NYC used to have a "Keep New York City Clean" campaign and "Please Don't Litter" was put on every trash can. We need to bring that back. Now we seem to have given in to the growing populace of natives and tourists that just don't give a damn about keeping our city clean.

Oct. 26 2011 10:41 AM
Barry from Midtown

I know it's corny but why not actually spend time and energy doing another "Give a hoot don't pollute" campaign? I know I'm not ancient (34) but when I was younger growing up in Pennsylvania being responsible for one's trash was drilled into us. So much so I still look at litterers with disgust.

Is it me or is it time to remind our culture "give a hoot don't pollute." Also when are places like Starbucks and Wholefoods gonna step up and stop packaging everything in a million layers of plastic and paper?

Oct. 26 2011 10:35 AM
carolita from nyc

Yeah, I saw some rats on the train tracks partying when they heard about this great idea. It'll all end up on the tracks, of course. Haven't they ever seen people on the subway throw their garbage out the train doors or under their seats? Are they going to increase subway car cleaning staff?

Oct. 26 2011 10:10 AM

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