|Embargoed for release:||For info, contact: Gene Russianoff|
|Monday, June 21, 2010, 6:00 a.m.||or Cate Contino at (212) 349-6460|
(New York, New York) – The number of clean subway cars declined since 2008, according to the eleventh annual “subway shmutz” survey released today by the Straphangers Campaign.
Campaign surveyors rated 50% of subway cars as “clean” in a survey conducted in the fall 2009, which was a statistical decline from 57% of cars rated clean in a survey conducted in the fall of 2008.
The worst performing line in our survey was the M, with the smallest number of clean cars at 32%. The best performing lines in our survey were the 6 and C with 65% of cars rated clean, up from 41% for both lines in 2008. (See Tables One and Two.)
Eleven of the 22 subway lines — fully half — grew worse, while five lines improved and six lines stayed the same.
The 2009 budget contained cuts in cleaning staff, with car cleaners going down from 1,181 with 155 supervisors in 2008 to 1,138 with 146 supervisors in 2009. The 2010 budget for car cleaners is 1,030 cleaners and 123 supervisors.
"It’s as clear as the grime on a subway car floor: MTA Transit cuts in cleaners has meant dirtier cars,” said Gene Russianoff, campaign attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “And more cuts to come means more dirt for subway riders.”
The car cleanliness survey is based on 2,200 observations of subway cars by the Straphangers Campaign between September 3 and November 24, 2009.
Cars were rated on 22 lines for cleanliness of floors and seats, following MTA New York City Transit’s 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”).
Cars were rated not clean if they were “moderately” dirty (“dingy floor, one or two sticky dry spots”) or “heavily” dirty (“Heavy dirt; any opened or spilled food, hazardous (e.g. rolling bottles), or malodorous conditions, sticky wet spots, any seats unusable due to unclean conditions”).
The survey did not rate litter. Since 1997, the Campaign has conducted ten largely similar studies for similar periods. (See attached methodology.)
Other key findings of the survey include:
“How will subway cleanliness fare in an age of shrinking resources? We will do another survey next fall, compare and find out,” said Cate Contino, the coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign who directed the survey.
MTA New York City Transit conducts its own semi-annual subway car cleanliness survey, which did not report its results on a line-by-line basis until this reporting period. Transit’s survey showed improvement in subway car overall cleanliness for the second half of 2009. The number of clean car floors and seats (those with no or light dirt) “in service” improved from 91% in the second half of 2008 to 95% in the second half of 2009.
The average percentage of clean cars in the Campaign’s 2009 survey was 50% compared to New York City Transit’s 95%. The trend in the two surveys are also far apart: Transit’s survey showed overall improvement and the Campaign’s showed deterioration.
The Campaign acknowledged the different findings, but said that it was not able to point to factors that come to these results.
The car cleanliness surveys by Transit and the Straphangers Campaign’s survey use similar although not identical methodology. For example, the Campaign rates throughout the day and night and on weekends. New York City Transit rates on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The Campaign credited New York City Transit for recently providing the public with results broken down on a line-by-line basis. (See MTA New York City Transit Committee Agenda, February 2010, Passenger Environment Survey, page 194. The document can be found at www.mta.info by clicking on “Board Materials.”)
The Campaign urged transit officials to:
The survey findings can also be found on the Internet at www.straphangers.org.