Brooklyn Boro

Opinions & Observations: Early-morning cleaning definitely helps subways

May 20, 2020 Raanan Geberer

When the MTA decided earlier this month to close the subway system between 1 and 5 a.m. for cleaning, I was unsure whether this would help.

Aside from the controversial matter of the homeless in the subway system and getting them off the trains at 1 a.m., would this really help? True, in this age of coronavirus, the subways definitely need to be cleaned more often than in the past because of the dangers of possible contamination.

Still, I never thought of the subways as particularly dirty, aside from an occasional paper cup or soda bottle on the floor. I never really noticed except for particular egregious situations – I was too busy concentrating on where I was going and was usually reading a magazine or book.

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Last week, I took the subway for the first time in more than a month, however, and you can really notice the difference. The MTA’s cleaning program seems to have worked. I didn’t see any candy wrappers, soda bottles, etc., either on the station platforms or in the train cars themselves. Both on the platform and in the cars, the floors looked noticeably cleaner.

There’s another way things underground have improved. In the past, the MTA has been vague about exactly when service will end when a line is undergoing repairs. For example, a placard might say “The 3 train won’t be running next weekend between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. so workers can perform track maintenance.” But there was always confusion about when the last train would leave from any particular station.

At times, I’ve gone to a station when maintenance work is being performed, only to be told that the last train left a few minutes ago. Usually, the advice they gave was something like “Take the A train one stop downtown to Jay Street, then take the F into Manhattan.”

This time, however, schedules are posted inside the stations that list the last train leaving, not only from that particular station, but from every station on the line. I was extremely impressed.

About the other alleged goal of the overnight subway shutdowns — to get the homeless off the trains — that’s the subject for another article. But as far as cleaning the system and making more information available, the subway system gets an “A” for its latest effort.

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