Last fall, the MTA started a somewhat counter-intuitive pilot program to help reduce trash in the subways – they removed the trash cans. The bins were taken out of two test subway stations, and surprisingly, it worked. The program was so successful that New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast plans to expand the program- and remove even more trash cans from other subway stops this summer.
The idea behind removing the trash cans on subway platforms is that subway riders will hang on to their trash, and dispose of it above ground, thus freeing the constant build up of underground trash. Prendergrast claims the plan worked for two months in the 8th Avenue N/R station, as well as the Flushing/Main Street 7 Station, but other officials are skeptical that it would work in more trafficked areas. Not to mention, some subway riders that frequently used the pilot stations said that people weren’t holding onto their garbage, and instead throwing it on the floor of the trains.
The program could reach other subway stations as early as this summer, but unlike at the two pilot locations, riders will be notified of the change so as not to wander subway platforms looking for trash bins which are not there. Whether the expanded plan will work or not remains to be seen. Time will tell whether this summer will show our cleanest subways ever, or even more piles of trash in the summer heat.