Photo via Office of the Governor
A week from today, those who litter in the subway system will face a $100 penalty, double the current $50. The increased fine is part of Governor Cuomo’s newly announced “Keep It Clean” initiative, which will discourage subway littering through a new public awareness campaign. Each year, 700 fire-related track incidents are caused by littering. And in just the past six months, incidents related to standing water conditions (litter hinders the MTA’s ability to pump out millions of gallons of water daily) increased by 56 percent.
Governor Cuomo tries his hand at a Mobile Vac, photo via Office of the Governor
The MTA removes 40 tons of trash each day from the system. To mitigate the litter issue, around this time last year, the agency announced its “Operation Trash Sweep” initiatives, which increased the frequency by which the 622 miles of tracks get cleaned and introduced new individually-operated Mobile Vacs that allow workers to quickly suck up trash. In July, as part of the MTA’s $800 million emergency rescue plan, these efforts were ramped up; Cuomo’s new initiative supports these existing efforts and includes a water management system. As a press release from the Governor’s office explains:
As water flows through the track bed, it collects debris that clogs grated track drains, which in turn causes water to pool on the track bed, accelerating breakdown of the track plates and railroad ties. As pooling increases and the water level rises, it interacts with subway signal equipment – turning signals red and stopping trains on the track. As the water level increases further, it touches the third rail, severely impairing the electrical system. In these cases, service must be immediately suspended until the water is pumped out. Saturated third rail insulators and water-compromised positive cables can also catch fire, again requiring service suspensions until isolated and repaired.
Photo via MTA
To deal with the issue, the MTA will perform preventative water and trash removal between stations, “eliminating dirt and trash accumulated from over a century of the system’s operation.” To paint a picture of how dire the situation is, since the city implemented the Mobile Vacs last summer, they’ve collected 2.3 million pounds of trash and debris, with 70,000 pounds removed in just one day from Brooklyn’s Carroll Street Station.
The Governor feels that directing the Department of Environmental Conservation to raise the littering fine is one way to get various state agencies on board with an overhaul of the subway system. Plus, the Post shares evidence that more tickets, or presumably heftier fines, leads to fewer fires: In 2012, 669 tickets were issued for littering and there were 261 track fires; this year, fewer than 100 tickets have been handed out, but there have been 470 fires.
And now, check out the MTA’s anti-littering PSA:
- Removing garbage cans in subway stations led to more trash and track fires
- VIDEO: Watch the MTA clean subway tracks with their new Mobile Vacs
- MTA announces $800M emergency rescue plan for a distressed subway system, includes removing seats