The Metropolitan Transportation Authority expanded its trash can-free pilot program on Aug. 20 to eight more stations citywide in an effort to reduce the subway system’s rodent population.
Over the next several months, a total of 10 stations — two each in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens — will be made trash can-free. The two stations in Queens are the A station at 111th Street and the M and R station at 65th Street.
The program originated last fall in two subway stations at the R train station at 8th Street in Manhattan and the 7 train station at Flushing-Main Street in Queens. The amount of trash bags used was reduced by 67 percent at Flushing-Main St. and 50 percent at 8th Street.
The MTA will track the rodent population at all the stops over the next six months to see if the program helps.
In subway stations not running the pilot program, the MTA said it has made trash cans less accessible to rodents, increased garbage collection on trains, reinforced refuse storage rooms and installed tamperproof receptacles.
“The problem still persists,” however, the agency said in a statement.
The MTA removes 14,000 tons of trash from the subway annually. But garbage sometimes accumulates in storage rooms and on platforms while waiting to be removed, which attracts rodents.
Clover McCally, 54, a patient caretaker from Brooklyn, takes snacks with him on his daily commute.
“There will always be litter no matter what anyone does about it. It will make no difference in removing trash cans. If the cans are gone then someone is going to have to clean it,” McCally said. “When there is trash and no one to clean up after it, rodents are there to do the job.”
In conjunction with the plan, commuters are asked to bring their refuse with them when they leave the subway. However, when someone chooses not to take that dripping ice cream cone home with them, it becomes a hazard.
Trash that subway riders dispose of incorrectly often flies off the platform and onto the rail bed, the MTA said. Once on the tracks, garbage can cause flooding by blocking drains and spark track fires by touching the third rail.
But an MTA worker from Jamaica expressed skepticism about the plan.
“It would make a lot more work for me ... always scraping, and it makes it more OK for people to dispose trash improperly,” said the worker, whose name the Chronicle is withholding to protect his position.
But since the pilot program began, there has been no increase in track fires and cleanliness has improved, the MTA said. The policy leaves commuters with no choice but to keep the trash with them until they exit the system for disposal — or to litter.