A transit watchdog agency's annual "shmutz" report has found nearly 70 percent of the cars in the New York City subway system are dirty and it designated the trains of the G, Q and No. 6 lines as the filthiest of the fleet.
The M line, which terminates in Middle Village, got the title of cleanest.
Despite the negative findings, the survey by the Straphangers Campaign acknowledged that overall things had improved a bit since the previous year's inspection. The survey found 32 percent of all subway cars clean, compared with 27 percent in 1998.
Among lines that became dirtier over the past year was the No. 7, which ferries passengers between West 42nd Street in Manhattan and Flushing. Inspectors found 76 percent of cars on the line dirty, compared to 39 percent a year earlier.
The survey said 91 percent of the cars of G trains, which run from Forest Hills in Queens to 9th Street in Brooklyn, were dirty. The Q line, running between Brighton Beach in Brooklyn through Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and 21st Street in Long Island City, had 88 percent of its cars dirty as did the No. 6 line, the Lexington Avenue local connecting Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx with the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan.
The transit advocacy agency said the M line, which runs from Metropolitan Avenue in Queens to Bay Parkway in Brooklyn, was 71 percent clean, achieving the "most improved title" and making tremendous progress from the previous year, when only 5 percent of its cars were found to be clean.
In the survey, volunteer inspectors checked 2,000 subway cars on 20 subway lines between August 1999 and January 2000. Cars were rated for cleanliness of floors and seats using Metropolitan Transportation Administration official standards for measuring whether cars are clean. The survey did not take into consideration whether there was litter, such as discarded food, papers or other debris.
The number of cars overall found to be "heavily dirty" dropped since the previous survey from 47 percent to 24 percent.
Gene Russianoff, a spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, said hiring of more car cleaners helped. The Transit Authority restored car cleaners it had cut in recent years. This past August, for instance, there were 1,112 car cleaners compared to 958 in 1998.
"More elbows have meant more elbow grease and that's meant cleaner subway cars," Russianoff. said.
Al O'Leary, chief spokesman for the Transit Authority, said "we are committed to keeping the system as clean as humanly possible, given the fact that it carries more than 4 million people a day. We think the overwhelming majority of subway cars are clean and our customers know that."
Among other lines and percentage of dirty cars, the A line, 74 percent; D line, 74 percent; J/Z line, 73 percent; F line, 70 percent; E line, 65 percent; R line, 65 percent; B line, 49 percent; and N line, 49 percent.
©2000 Community News Group
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