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Queens Chronicle

The subways of old

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

The MTA’s plans to remove more subway station trash cans misses the fact that besides litter left on platforms, subway cars and buses, riders have to deal with those hogging two seats, yawning, coughing or sneezing without covering up and the release of flatulence. Women are routinely accosted by gropers while perverts engage in other unhealthy sexual activities. Newsstand vendors provide employment. They count on revenues for sales of snacks and provide the MTA with millions in lease revenues. The city also counts on millions in tax revenues on sales of snacks. Some people with long subway rides need to eat due to medical conditions.

There are other ways to fight the growth of rats, mice and litter. The MTA should consider installing separate cans for recycling newspapers, plastic and glass along with regular garbage. Selling advertising on the side of cans could generate revenues to help cover the costs of more frequent off-peak and late-night collection and disposal. If asked, the NYC Department of Sanitation could do the same on the street adjacent to subway station entrances.

Many have long since forgotten that up until the late 1960s, it was common to find both penny gum and 10-cent soda machines dispensing products at many subway stations. It was a time when people respected authority and law. That generation of riders did not litter subway stations and buses leaving behind gum, candy wrappers, paper cups, bottles and newspapers. No one would openly eat pizza, chicken or other messy foods while riding a bus or subway.

There are also solutions in dealing with waiting for or riding the subway and having the “urge to go.” The odds of finding a working bathroom for “relief” may be too late. Until the early 1960s, most subway stations had clean, safe, working bathrooms with toilet paper. Revenues generated from a 10-cent fee helped cover the costs. Why not consider charging a fee between 25 cents and a dollar? That would generate revenues to assign a matron along with covering security and maintenance costs. This could help provide secure, fully equipped bathrooms at most of the 465 subway stations. Many riders would gladly pay this small price to ensure working bathrooms rather than face the current unpleasant alternatives which contribute to dirty subways.

Police have more important tasks to perform by preventing fare evasion, pickpockets, mugging, sexual harassment and other real crimes against victims rather than give out $250 fines to those caught snacking on the subways.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, LI

Welcome to the discussion.