Fewer Trash Cans, Less Litter: MTA


It might sound counterintuitive that removing trash cans would reduce litter, but in fact an experiment by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at 10 subway stations reportedly found just that, prompting a new decision to remove garbage cans from 29 more stations on the J and M lines.

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A train car hauls bags filled with subway trash (Photo: Al Barbarino)
A train car hauls bags filled with subway trash (Photo: Al Barbarino)

A 10-station pilot program found that the stations had “moderate-to-heavy” litter 41 percent of the time prior to the pilot but only 30 percent of the time in the last six months of last year, though there was a small increase of trash on the tracks, officials told the publication.

“We’ve seen a change in customer behavior,” Joe Leader, Vice President of subways, at an MTA committee meeting, according to the Daily News. “Riders knew that there weren’t trash cans at those stations, so they took their trash somewhere else.”

But the trash didn’t just “disappear into the ether,” said Mark Page, city budget director under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, noting, “If we’re not collecting it, it’s either being dumped in the street or someone else is collecting it.”   

The pilot stations include Main Street (7), 8th Street (R), 238th Street (1), E. 143rd Street (6), 57th Street (F), Rector Street (1), 7th Avenue (F and G), Brighton Beach (Q), 111th Street (A) and 65th Street (M and R).

The new phase of trash can removals will occur along the J/M lines between Broad Street, Manhattan and Parsons/Archer in Queens; and between Essex Street, Manhattan, and Middle Village, Queens.