Straphangers: NYC subway cars getting dirtier

A train arrives to the Astor Place station early Friday, Dec. 16, 2005 in New York. (AP Photo/ Dima Gavrysh)

May 5, 2011 7:46:19 AM PDT
The number of clean subway cars continues to decline, according to the twelfth annual "subway shmutz" survey released by the Straphangers Campaign.

The Straphangers Campaign rated 47 percent of subway cars as "clean" in a survey conducted in the fall of 2010, which was a decline of four percent compared to the survey in the fall of 2009 and continues a downward trend that began in 2008.

The worst performing line in the survey was the R, with the smallest number of clean cars at 27% in this survey, down a dozen percent from the year before.

The best performing line was the 7 with 68% of its cars rated clean, up from 2009.

Five of the 20 subway lines grew worse, while one improved and fourteen stayed largely the same.

The Straphangers point out that the 2010 MTA budget contained cuts in cleaning staff, with car cleaners going down from 1,138 with 146 supervisors in 2009 to 1,030 cleaners and 123 supervisors in 2010.

The car cleanliness survey is based on 2,000 observations of subway cars by the Straphangers Campaign between September 14 and November 20, 2010. The 2009 survey covered a nearly identical period.

Other key findings of the survey included:

  • The five subway lines that experienced statistically significant deterioration were the 6, B, E, L and R.

  • The most improved line was the M, going from 32% clean cars in 2009 to 61% in 2010. It was the one subway line that showed statistically significant improvement. The M was dramatically restructured in June of 2010, combining with the V line and losing 24 stations between downtown Manhattan and southern Brooklyn.

  • Fourteen lines remained statistically unchanged: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, A, C, D, F, G, J, N and Q.)

  • The most deteriorated line in our survey was the B, which fell from 61% in 2009 to 37% in 2010.

  • The survey found major disparities in cleanliness among the lines, ranging from a low of 27% clean cars on the R line to a high of 68% on the 7.

    MTA New York City Transit conducts its own semi-annual subway car cleanliness survey.

    Transit's survey showed that the number of clean car floors and seats (those with no or light dirt) "in service" declined slightly from 95% in the second half of 2009 to 94% in the second half of 2010, a statistically insignificant change.


    Read the full report at

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