2011-05-13 / Community

‘A’ Is Dirty, Just Not That Much

By Nicholas Briano

New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) Straphangers Campaign released its 12th annual “Shmutz” report last week which ranks the A line as the eighth dirtiest subway line in the city out of 20 lines.

The survey tallies up the percentage of clean cars per subway line and ranks them in order of cleanest to dirtiest. The MTA system average for all 20 lines is 47 percent. The A line’s percentage was below the system average with only 42 percent of the line’s cars declared as clean.

The cleanest cars in 2010 were on the 7 line with a 68 percent ranking. The dirtiest was the R train from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Forest Hills, Queens, with only a 27 percent cleanliness rating. The system average in 2009 was 51 percent. The A line was above the system-wide average in 2009 with 52 percent. This continues a trend of a decrease in the average number of clean subway cars, which dropped from 56 percent system-wide in 2008.

The Straphangers Campaign attributes the drop in cleanliness, in part, to a decrease in maintenance worker staff in the New York City Transit Authority. According to the report, the 2010 budget contained cuts in cleaning staff, with the number of car cleaners going down from 1,138 with 146 supervisors in 2009 to 1,030 cleaners and 123 supervisors in 2010.

The survey is based on 2,000 observations of subway cars by the group between September 14 and November 20, 2010. Ratings are based on cleanliness of floors and seats, which is the New York City Transit Authority’s official standard for measuring car cleanliness.

Subway cars were determined clean if they were dirt free or had light dirt on the floors or seats. A dirty subway car is considered so when floors and seats are noticeably dirty, contain sticky spots and have an overall dingy appearance. A heavily dirty car typically contains spilled food, rolling bottles or seats unusable due to a lack of cleanliness in any way.

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