An old friend named Bob was a serious Roman Catholic, and though he harbored no bias against other religious denominations, he could not contain himself when presented one day with a suggestion that he found singularly awful. “That’s the worst idea since the Reformation,” he blurted out.
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
Bob is no longer with us, so this has to be a guess, but we can imagine him having similar feelings about a Metropolitan Transportation Authority experiment that involves removing trash bins from subway stations as a way to keep garbage off platforms and tracks. Theology aside, the idea would seem to rank with fourth marriages, lottery ticket purchases and preseason forecasts of a Mets World Series as a triumph of hope over experience.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but some New Yorkers are slobs. Quite a few of them, in fact.
Even when there is a bin 10 feet away, they drop their soda bottles and pizza crusts on subway platforms or hurl them onto the tracks. That walk of a few steps is too much for them, the poor dears. Nor can they trouble themselves with having consideration for the working stiff who will pick up after them — mind you, a not-terribly-well-paid working stiff.
It is not unreasonable to fear that the ranks of the louts will swell if train stations become receptacle-free zones.
The theory behind the transportation authority’s strategy is that riders, knowing there is no bin on the platform, will dump their trash before they enter the station. Lots of luck. If you want to talk about faith, some people in this city cling to a credo that a touch of antisocial behavior validates their authenticity as New Yorkers.
A version of the phenomenon was in evidence on Tuesday after the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a crackdown, with stiff fines, on gratuitous, brain-piercing horn-leaning by cabbies. The new policy — lots of luck with that one, too — inspired Fernando Mateo, a spokesman for many taxi drivers, to dismiss the edict as being “completely out of touch with what makes New York tick.”
“If someone is offended by a honking horn that helps passengers get where they need to go, then New York is not the place for them,” Mr. Mateo said in a statement.
There you have it. Uncivil behavior is the mark of a true New Yorker.
The transportation authority emphasizes, correctly, that for now the bin removal is but an experiment. It affects only two stations — Flushing-Main Street in Queens on the 7 line and the Eighth Street stop in Greenwich Village on the N and R lines. The program has been under way for two weeks, and will continue for two more months. Decisions will then be made about whether to jettison the idea or apply it elsewhere.
When I visited both stations on Tuesday, they were reasonably clean. The platforms had scatterings of expired MetroCards, crumpled candy wrappers, crushed coffee cups, discarded newspapers and the like — but nothing to turn the stomach or invite rats. You have to assume, though, that two stations are relatively easy to keep tidy when they’re the focus of attention. And, Flushing-Main Street is a terminus of the No. 7 train. A major terminus has sweepers at the ready.
Let’s see what happens if many more stations get the no-bin treatment.
In theory, it could work. A colleague of mine, just back from Tokyo, reports having seen no trash receptacles in the subway there and also no trash. The theory is splendid. Only problem: New Yorkers are not Tokyoites.
A couple of years ago, for some bizarre reason, several bins were removed from the uptown platform of the busy 86th Street stop on the No. 1 line. Only one receptacle was left, and it sat at the platform’s northern end, a full city block from the station entrance. Very few people ever stood there.
Near the entrance, where most passengers waited for trains, the garbage piled up. It did so every day until sanity — and sanitation — finally prevailed many months later, and more bins were put in place.
That’s the New York we know.
For more local news, including the arrest of eight New York police officers charged with smuggling guns, SAT officials’ promise to heighten security in the wake of cheating arrests, a look at the state’s powerful gains and losses resulting from globalization, and the latest on a death threat in Zuccotti Park, see the N.Y./Region section.
Here is what we are reading in other newspapers and blogs.
A Bronx police officer is being investigated over allegations that he took gifts in exchange for legal favors. [New York Post]
A couple who took their children from foster care in Queens pleaded guilty to custodial interference. [New York Post]
A 3-year-old girl and her brother were held hostage in their apartment by their father, the police said. [New York Post]
A market forced out of its old location by Occupy Wall Street has opened at a new spot. [DNAinfo]
Parents are upset about “demerit system” disciplining at Girls Prep in the East Village. [The Local/East Village]
The police are stepping up their patrolling of street vendors in the Upper West Side, after complaints from neighbors. [DNAinfo]
Occupy Wall Street nurses are bracing for flu season. [Wall Street Journal]
A longtime carousel repairman unsuccessfully tried to persuade the parks department to let him use his skills to reopen two closed rides in Queens. [Daily News]
A Staten Island forum took up complaints about the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s payroll tax. [SI Live]
Park officers evacuated a rat-infested building in Brooklyn. [New York Post]