New York – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the “Keep It Clean” initiative to discourage subway littering, a significant underlying cause of flooding, fires and extensive delays in the subway system. The MTA will run a public awareness campaign to inform riders of the impact on public safety due to littering. Governor Cuomo also directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to double the penalty for litter in the subway system from $50 to $100. The new fines will go into effect in seven days.
“Littering is not only illegal but dangerous and directly causes hundreds of thousands of delays, inconveniencing millions of New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “This initiative will help stop littering-related delays at the source, improving reliability and helping the MTA deliver the subway service that New Yorkers deserve.”
Last night, Governor Cuomo unveiled the new initiative and showcased the MTA’s ongoing trash removal and water mitigation efforts. Photos are available here.
The script of the “Our MTA” PSA is as follows: “Littering in subways isn’t just rude, dangerous and illegal. It’s un-New York and it makes everyone late, including you. Garbage can cause track fires and flooding, resulting in major delays. Plus, added enforcement means littering will cost you a $100 fine. So do your part as a good New Yorker and dispose of waste properly. Keep New York moving. Remember: it’s our MTA.”
Litter severely impairs the system’s ability to handle the millions of gallons of water pumped out of the system every day. Littering contributes to 700 fire-related incidents on the tracks every year. Additionally, in the last six months, incidents directly due to standing water conditions increased by 56 percent compared to the same period last year.
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.
The “Keep It Clean” initiative supports the MTA’s water management and debris removal work previously announced in the Emergency Plan. To increase system reliability, the MTA is performing preventative water and trash removal between stations, eliminating dirt and trash accumulated from over a century of the system’s operation.
As part of this effort, MTA will also seal 4,325 leaks with chemical grouting, clean street grates, which when clogged allow water to enter the subway, and clean under-the-track drains. This initiative has already recovered 2.3 million pounds of trash and debris, including 70,000 pounds in a single day at Carroll St. Station in Brooklyn.