NEW YORK—Stains on the seats, grime on the floor, and unpleasant odors are becoming more common on many subway trains, according to a new report released Monday, which found that, in general, subway cars have become progressively less clean over the past year.
In its annual “subway shmutz” survey, the Straphangers Campaign found that 50 percent of subway cars were rated “clean,” a decline from the previous year, when 57 percent of cars received this rating.
The data was gathered via 2,200 observations the transit advocacy group made between September and November 2009.
Of the 22 subway lines surveyed, the M train received the worst rating with only 32 percent of its cars rated “clean.” The train that experienced the worst deterioration in the one-year span is the D train, which was rated 80 percent “clean” in 2008, but fell to 38 percent in 2009.
The 6 and C lines performed the best, with 65 percent “clean” rating, the survey noted.
The advocacy group used the “clean” rating for cars that were “basically dirt free” or had “light dirt” with “occasional ‘ground-in’ spots but generally clean” floors and seats. Unclean cars were considered to be “moderately dirty” if they had a “dingy floor [and] one or two sticky dry spots, ” or “heavily dirty” if they had “opened or spilled food, hazardous (e.g. rolling bottles), or malodorous conditions, sticky wet spots, any seats unusable due to unclean conditions.”
The survey did not count litter, but assessed grime and dirt on the floors and seats of subway cars.
Eleven of the 22 subway lines—the 1, 4, 5, 7, B, D, F, G, J, M, and V trains—became worse since 2008. The 6, C, N, Q, and R lines became cleaner, and the 2, 3, A, E, L, and W lines stayed the same.
“It’s as clear as the grime on a subway car floor: MTA Transit cuts in cleaners has meant dirtier cars,” said Gene Russianoff, a campaign attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “And more cuts to come means more dirt for subway riders.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) experienced a budget shortfall and approved of budget cuts to their cleaning staff, as well as other services in 2009. Over the past two years, the agency cut 151 cleaning workers and 32 supervisors.
The MTA has proposed to cut even more services in the next fiscal year, as it faces an $800 million budget shortfall.
“How will subway cleanliness fare in an age of shrinking resources? We will do another survey next fall, compare and find out,” said Cate Contino, who coordinated the survey.
The MTA's NYC Transit branch told the Wall Street Journal that “some subway car floors may not be as clean as our customers expect or deserve.”
The Straphangers Campaign is a branch of the New York Public Interest Research Group.