Cleaning Up Our Subways, One Trash Can at a Time

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The MTA is piloting a new strategy to clean up the subways--eliminating the trash cans at station stops. Can this counterintuitive program really cut out the garbage?

For the past two weeks the MTA has been testing out its newest initiative. They are removing the trash cans from subway stations to cut down on the trash pile-ups. The pilot stations--he Eighth Street N station in Greenwich Village and the Main Street 7 station in Queens--are now totally trashcan-free.

According to an MTA spokesperson, Charles Seaton, the MTA collects and disposes of 8,500 bags of garbage every day, and just cannot keep up with it. The only solution, aside from removing trash cans, is to add two more garbage trains which will slow down passenger trains.

The trashcan elimination program is already in effect on all NJ PATH train stations and in the London Underground. According to Seaton the MTA really isn't asking all that much from subway-goers, "People only stay on the platform for about five minutes," he said. "We do not think that it's unreasonable to ask people to hold on to their trash."

Still, many New Yorkers--this New Yorker for one--have reservations. Will we really hang on to that old newspaper long enough to throw it away on the street? The flower-child in me says yes, but the realist in me knows that flower-children are few and far between in NYC. Seaton remains optimistic though, "I think it's a very small population of customers who actually litter," he said. Only time will tell how eco-responsible New Yorkers can be.

By McCamey Lynn

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