|Embargoed for release:
Monday, March 17, 2003
| For info, contact:
Gene Russianoff or Neysa Pranger at (212) 349-6460
Subway Cars Are Cleaner, Annual "Shmutz" Survey Finds
Cars on C Line the Dirtiest; L Line the Cleanest
The number of clean subway cars increased in the last two years, according
to the fifth annual "subway shmutz" survey by the NYPIRG Straphangers
Campaign, released today.
The survey was conducted on 2,200 subway cars on 22 subway lines between
October 2002 and January 2003.
Campaign surveyors rated 59% of subway cars as "clean" compared to
47% of cars rated clean in a survey in 2000-2001 and 32% of cars in
the campaigns 1999-2000 survey. (See tables one
Cars on nine subway lines saw significant improvement (1/9, 2, 4,
6, A, F, G, L and Q), while cars on only two lines grew worse (C and
M). Cars on nine lines were largely unchanged (3, 5, 7, B, D, E, J/Z,
N, and R.) Two lines the V and W started after the campaigns
"Transit officials have made real progress in the war on subway grime,"
said Neysa Pranger, Straphangers Campaign coordinator who directed the
Cars were rated for cleanliness of floors and seats, following MTA
New York City Transits official standards for measuring car cleanliness.
Cars were rated as clean if they were "basically dirt free" or had "light
dirt" ("occasional ground-in spots but generally clean.")
The survey did not rate litter. The campaign conducted three largely
similar studies for similar periods in 1997, 1998 and 1999-2000. (See
The campaign attributed improved cleanliness to New York City Transits
decision to devote more resources to cleaning subway cars.
In 1999, New York City Transit restored car cleaners that had been
cut in 1995, along with assigning WEP participants to subway cleaning
duties. These moves came in response to public opinion and to the campaigns
earlier Shmutz surveys.
As part of New York City Transits current "program to eliminate
the gap" (PEG) program, the agency plans "cleaner deployment savings"
which are projected to save $8.9 million in 2003 and $8.4 million in
2004. The agency has said these savings will be achieved through improved
scheduling and will not result in a reduction in staffing.
"We will be watching carefully to see if subway cars grow cleaner
or dirtier in a time of budget cuts," said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney
for the campaign.
Other key findings of the survey included:
- The worst performing line was the C, which had the smallest number
of clean cars at 31%.
- The best performing line was the L, with 85% of its cars rated
- The most improved line was the G, going from 22% clean cars in
the campaigns 2000-2001 survey to 79% in the current survey.
- The most deteriorated line was the C, going from 60% clean cars
in 2000-2001 survey to 31% in the current survey.
- MTA New York City Transits own survey shows a slight deterioration
in subway car cleanliness in the last year. For example, the number
of clean car floors and seats (those with no or light dirt) "measured
throughout the day while in service" declined from 87% in the fourth
quarter of 2001 to 76% in the fourth quarter of 2002, according to
New York City Transits survey.
- The Straphangers Campaign survey has a different overall finding
from New York City Transits survey. While 59% of cars had no
or light dirt in the campaigns survey, New York City Transits
survey found that 76% of subway cars had no or light dirt. Both surveys
have similar methodologies, although the time periods in which they
were conducted do not completely overlap.
The campaign recommended that transit officials:
- set a high goal for cleanliness. According to New York City Transits
own most recent survey, 24% of its subway cars have moderate or heavy
dirt. "Thats still an unacceptable performance," said Pranger,
since a "moderately" dirty car can have "a dingy floor and one or
two sticky dry spots." The campaign urged officials to set a goal
that 95% or more of its cars have either no or "light" dirt.
- produce more timely information on cleanliness. Transit officials
should move to use "hand-held" computers in conducting their own passenger
environmental survey. This would give them more timely information.
Hand-held computers have been used effectively to monitor conditions
in city parks more in "real time."
- post the results of its surveys where riders can see them. A bill
is pending in the state legislature to require posting of performance
statistics at subway stations. Transit officials have also pledged
to place more operational information on the MTAs web site.
This survey was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a leader
in supporting assessment of public services.
methodology | table
1 | table 2 | chart 1
www.straphangers.org | www.nypirg.org