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Dirty trains in NYC? What about Metro?

New York City subway cars have gotten dirtier, and budget cuts are to blame, a watchdog group said. Metro has its own problems. What do you see happening with our local buses and subways?

The Straphangers Campaign survey released Monday found that in 2009, only half of New York's subway cars were clean, down from 57 percent a year earlier.

"Eleven of the 22 subway lines, fully half, grew worse, while five lines improved and six lines stayed the same," the report said.

The campaign blamed budget cuts at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the decline. There were 43 fewer car-cleaners in 2009 than in 2008, and 108 more are slated to be cut in the 2010 budget.

"It's as clear as the grime on a subway car floor: MTA transit cuts in cleaners has meant dirtier cars," the group's spokesman, Gene Russianoff, wrote. "And more cuts to come means more dirt for subway riders." The survey was based on 2,200 observations of subway floors and seats.

NYC Transit conducts its own subway cleanliness survey. Its findings showed improvement in overall cleanliness, with 95 percent of subway cars being clean for the second half of 2009.

The two surveys use similar, but not identical, methodology.

-- Associated Press

What do you think about the state of Metro? It's wrestling with budget deficits, too. New York officials are trying to close an $800 million deficit while Metro officials have to cover $190 million. Are our local rail cars and buses getting dirtier? Staying the same? Are they cleaner? Are certain lines cleaner than others? Post a comment below

By Michael Bolden  | June 21, 2010; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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In the 5 years I have been riding Metro, there has been a steady decline in the cleanliness of the trains. Riders are also much more likely to bring food and drink on the trains - and with zero enforcement of the no food rule, it will only get worse, unfortunately.

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | June 21, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Is there no middle ground in DC?

Either you get cuffed and maced for carrying on French fries, or people feel free to bring their (un-lidded!) Starbucks on the train every morning.

I too have noticed an increase in the number of people who bring food onto Metro over the last few years.

Posted by: | June 21, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The state of the New York subway goes to show that money isn't the problem.

Metro and its apologists like to whine that "lack of deicated funding" is the root cause of Metro's problems. The MTA which runs the New york subway has had dedicated funding for decades - the tolls from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the revenue from the "temporary" (since 1975) New York city automobile use tax.

Lack of money is only part of MTA's - and Metro's - cleanliness (or lack thereof) problem. The bulk of the problem lies with the poor work ethic of the overpaid workers and the sloppiness of the users.

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 21, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Our metro system is fine; my only problem is not everyone can fit in an empty seat!!!

Obesity is a major problem in DC and then they go excuse me after taking their seat and yours "have some respect"...

Posted by: shadon1 | June 21, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? Let's focus on the fact that someone is going to get bumped onto the tracks trying to get on or off the red line to Shady Grove at Gallery Place during rush hour or that the only escalator running down to the platform at Bethesda has been out for 2 months. I'm pretty sure cramming two trains worth of riders on the Bethesda platform waiting to go single-file up the only working escalator is incredibly dangerous.

Posted by: jtheisman | June 21, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Two years on the red line, and I haven't really noticed any trend - up or down. Just about every station I've entered and car I've boarded has been what I would call clean.

The only complaint I have from personal experience is the condition of the parking garage stairwells at Shady Grove... Put it this way: a stink that bad can't be fought with air fresheners alone.

Posted by: HydroxCookies | June 21, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

If a few passengers have to die for us to have a green transit system, isn't it worth it?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 21, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe the trains have gotten dirtier in recent years. While there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people bring food and beverages on the train, I believe the single greatest reason the trains are dirtier is the Washington Post Express. The free papers handed out at every station can be found littering the floors and seats of every train. If the Washington Post is going to continue to make the Express available they should engage in a public awareness campaign to have readers dispose of the papers properly.

Posted by: Johnf626 | June 21, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Metro should sue the Express and Examiner publishers for the cost of cleaning the newspapers off the subway.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | June 21, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Getting rid of those two papers will eliminate 80% of the trash problems. Actively enforcing the no food/drink rules will take care of most of the rest.

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 21, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

jtheisman, I'll give you that the Gallery Place platform can get really crowded to the point where it could be dangerous, but you are overexagerating when it comes to Bethesda and Shady Grove. I use both these stations regularly and while the line waiting to exit the station can be a little bit of an inconvienence, in no way is either situation "dangerous" the platforms are not that crowded at either station where people are at risk of falling onto the tracks, it just simply takes a little patience. I'm guessing you are just complaining because you are delayed all of 2 minutes (at most and that's probably an exaggeration) by the lines to exit the station.

Now if people would act like freakin' grown ups for a change, the line to exit the station would actually move quicker and more efficiently. Instead you have people that are just too important to wait, and cut in front of people right at the escalator. It flabbergasts me that 1st graders can master the concept of getting in line and waiting your turn, but people who are suppose to be adults can't.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | June 21, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Aside from that rank, musty odor on all the 1000 series cars and the newspapers scattered about, I haven't noticed a decrease in cleanliness.

What I HAVE noticed, and what Metro and this column should REALLY be focusing on, are: increasingly late buses with no legitimate reason or explanation; an increase in the number of operators who lie about a train being "directly behind this one"; an increase in unacceptably long gaps between trains on the Red Line at rush hour (especially in the evening); an increase in the number of unexplainable stops and starts once a train actually leaves a station (why is there a train "directly ahead of us"? Are the operators and the staff at Central Control not doing their jobs to keep all trains evenly spaced with little or no need to constantly start and stop?); and so on.

Let's focus on improving the reliability and on-time performance of Metro. Issues of clutter can wait until we figure out how to move people from Point A to Point B promptly, efficiently, and safely.

Posted by: brimadison | June 21, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more with JTheisman and disagree more with UMDTerpsGirl. The system is overloaded and only getting worse. I'll take a dirtier ride any day if the frequency of trains is increased. NYC remains head and shoulders above Metro and if you are one of the riders pointing to Metro's escalators as a nice perk there's a good chance you are obese.

Posted by: djones13 | June 21, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

djones13, what are you disagreeing with me about? Do you think the platforms at Bethesda and Shady Grove are so crowded that people are at risk of falling in? I'd be happy to shoot some video of either of these platforms to prove you wrong. Crowded? Yes. Dangerous? Not at all. Only when the impatient idiots who are suppose to be adults start pushing. And that is dangerous at anytime, packed or not.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | June 22, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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