Next time you’re on the subway, take a look around you. Notice peeling paint? Rats on the tracks? Tiles that need a good scrub?
The MTA’s subway cleaning and maintenance is not up to scratch, according to a report released on Thursday by city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
“Fares keep going up, but anyone who takes the trains can tell you that we haven’t seen a meaningful reduction in rats, garbage and peeling paint,” Stringer said in a press release. “New York City Transit management needs to get its priorities straight and start deploying its resources to help improve conditions underground.”
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The consequences of the lack of cleaning are not just unpleasant subway rides for New Yorkers - the report found that the conditions could also be contributing to more track fires and rats infestations. On top of that, the MTA is not meeting its own goals to fix peeling paint and
Between 2008 and 2013, the agency’s spending on subway cleaning went from 6.3 percent to 5.4 percent of their revenue. Over this same period, their total revenue grew by 34 percent.
The report also found that the MTA cut its track cleaning employees by almost 50% during that time.
“The MTA is constantly reminding riders to clean up after themselves, but they’re setting a poor example by letting piles of trash on the tracks fester for months on end,” Stringer said. “Our auditors observed rats scurrying over the tracks and onto subway platforms, and it’s almost as if they were walking upright – waiting to take the train to their next meal. This is a daily, stomach-turning insult to millions of straphangers, and it’s unworthy of a world-class City.”
The Comptroller’s office is recommending that the MTA. increase funding and staffing for cleaning, maintenance and painting. They also suggested buying better vacuum train cars, used to clean the tracks, and developing a system that makes sure tracks are cleaned regularly. The report says the MTA agrees with most of the recommendations, but so far the authority has not issued a plan in response to the report.
“MTA New York City Transit regularly reviews opportunities to increase investment in the maintenance and cleanliness of stations,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz in a statement to Metro.
Ortiz said overall amounts being spent on station cleanliness have increased 25 percent from 2008 to 2014 and funds for station maintenance have increased 29 percent.
But the Comptroller’s report looks at how much of the agency’s revenue they are spending on cleaning and maintenance - the increase in spending is not in line with how much more revenue they’re drawing in.
Ortiz said the authority has developed a system for cleaning track beds, based on cleaning records and calculating the need for cleaning at each station. In addition, he said, the MTA approved a contract for three new vacuum trains in March.
“These new trains should address all the current vacuum train deficiencies noted in the Comptroller’s report,” he said in the statement.
10 stations with worst paint conditions, according to the report:
Hoyt/Schermerhorn Street (G Line)
Fulton Street (G Line)
Clinton/Washington Avenues (G Line)
Classon Avenue (G Line)
Bedford/Nostrand Avenue (G Line)
157th Street (1 Line)
145th Street (1 Line)
116th Street/Columbia University (1 Line)
Cathedral Parkway (1 Line)
103rd Street (1 Line)