Audit: New York City Subway Tracks Filthy, Overrun With Rats

'A World-Class City Has A Second-Rate Subway System. It Looks And Smells Terrible'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has revealed that subway tracks are filled with rats, dirt and garbage.

The audit found only 3 percent of tracks in 276 underground stations were cleaned according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s own standards, which include cleaning track beds at underground stations every three weeks and using special equipment to vacuum up trash from the tracks every six months.

“The MTA is constantly reminding riders to clean up after themselves, but they’re setting a poor example by letting piles of trash on the tracks fester for months on end,” Stringer said. “Our auditors observed rats scurrying over the tracks and onto subway platforms, and it’s almost as if they were walking upright – waiting to take the train to their next meal. This is a daily, stomach-turning insult to millions of straphangers, and it’s unworthy of a world-class city.”

LINK: Read The Full Audit

So what is the MTA cleaning? An employee told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer on Thursday her job was to shine the outside on the agency’s litter baskets and buff the turnstiles.

Kramer then spoke with Stringer.

Kramer: “How ironic is it that the MTA is having this woman polish the outside of the litter bins when the tracks are really disgusting?’

Stringer: “It makes no sense. The whole way the MTA (has) approached cleanliness is just something that is beyond belief. When you look at what our auditors found you realize that a world-class city has a second-rate subway system. It looks and smells terrible.”

Stringer said there are two track-cleaning trains that work the entire system and one was out of service for most of a year while the other is run on low power for fear of damaging the tracks, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“You gotta buy better, more effective vacuum cars,” Stringer said. “Why are you keeping in service vacuum cars that aren’t vacuuming?”

The MTA told CBS2 it has increased its budget for cleaning tracks by 25 percent over the last six years, adding in March it approved a new $23 million contract for three new vacuum trains to pick up debris, Kramer reported.

Stringer said over the last five years the MTA has slashed the cleaning workforce in half — and riders admitted they are seeing the result.

“We got a gin bottle. We got a 7-Up bottle. We got an orange juice bottle. We got an old sneaker. It’s all laying in muck and mud-sewage water and rats are running like crazy,” Ozone Park resident Michael O’Shaughnessey said.

“It’s nasty — very, very bad. They should do something about it for the money they charge you,” Bensonhurst resident John Pacheco added.

The audit also found peeling paint and mold in subway stations, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

Riders are calling for change.

“It’s disgusting. That’s just nasty,” subway rider Irene Sumpter said, pointing to the garbage-strewn tracks at the East Broadway station along the “F” line. “We could have a beautiful subway system if somebody would just put in some hard work.”

Stringer said the MTA agrees with his findings, Lamb reported. The agency said Thursday it is being proactive.

“We have already developed a more systematic cleaning frequency for the track beds,” a spokesman said.

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