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Despite subway’s track fire problem, MTA may cut overnight sweeping

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The cash-strapped MTA is making moves to take trash-removing workers out of stations overnight

MTA workers clean the tracks at 14th Street during the agency’s “Operation Track Sweep” program.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

The New York City subway has a trash problem—so much so that the MTA introduced a sweeping (heh) program last year to combat the amount of debris that collects on subway platforms and tracks every day. But even as the Operation Track Sweep initiative is ongoing, the cash-strapped MTA is making moves to take trash-removing workers out of stations overnight, according to the New York Post.

Per the Post’s sources, the MTA intends to have all overnight workers off the tracks by 2018, and has already begun removing them from stations along the R train. The TWU theorizes that the change is due to a wage increase coming down the pike in 2018—the 300 workers on overnight shifts “get paid an extra $150 to $200 every two weeks for the night shifts,” according to the Post.

And understandably, some people are skeptical of the move—particularly in the wake of this summer’s multiple derailments and track fires, some of which were caused by debris on the tracks. “If the stations are not cleaned, that litter and debris is going to go on the track bed, which could cause fires and delay trains,” MTA board member Andrew Albert told the Post.

The MTA, for its part, told the Post that “NYC Transit is taking an extremely aggressive approach that includes the acquisition of new cleaning equipment and intensified cleaning when it’s needed most.” The agency has been using small, mobile vacuums to remove debris from the tracks, and larger ones are due to be rolled out in the future.