A dirty strap to hang on • Brooklyn Paper

A dirty strap to hang on

Neat freaks take heed: avoid the R train at all costs.

The train, which rumbles from Bay Ridge to Downtown Brooklyn on its way to Manhattan and Queens, was rated the filthiest subway line in the city, according to the Straphangers Campaign’s tenth annual “shmutz survey.”

In a survey conducted in the fall and winter of 2008, just 25 percent of cars on the line were rated as clean, compared to a system average of 57 percent, the report notes.

In light of the findings, a local lawmaker is urging New York City Transit Authority President Howard Roberts to ride a mile in his constituents’ shoes.

“I believe that whether a commuter is going to work, to see family or friends, go shopping, or whatever the case may be, they have a right, and consequently an expectation, to ride subways that are not only safe but also clean,” State Senator Marty Golden told Roberts in a letter inviting him to ride the R, as well as the N train, whose cars were found clean a paltry 29 percent of the time.

The cleanest cars were along the 7 line — which never enters Brooklyn — where 84 percent of cars were rated clean, according to the report.

Brooklyn’s cleanest line was the D, which travels from Coney Island to Atlantic Avenue on its way to the Bronx, found to have 80 percent of its cars clean.

The L train, last year’s cleanest line, had fewer clean cars, declining from 88 percent in the last survey to 62 percent in the current survey. Both the 7 and the L lines originally had additional cleaning resources, thanks to the line general manager program, an initiative that enables swifter deployment of cleaning personnel. But, the Straphangers’ warn, the 2010 budget contains cuts in cleaning staff, with car cleaners going down from 1,181 with 155 supervisors in 2009 to 1,138 in 2010 with 146 supervisors.

“It is encouraging to find an increase in clean cars,” said Gene Russianoff, the Straphangers’ Campaign attorney. “But we are very concerned that cuts in cleaners will result in dirtier cars.” He said the next Campaign cleanliness report would show whether “fewer elbows result in less elbow grease.”

NYC Transit, the agency that operates the city’s trains and buses, said the line general manager program is expected to expand to the lettered lines — like the R. “The resulting hands−on management approach and the ability to make immediate decisions in the field will make it much easier to deploy personnel more efficiently,” the agency said in a statement.

“However, in order to achieve and maintain a uniformly high level of car cleanliness throughout the system achieved on the 7 and the L, NYC Transit would have to hire 400 additional cleaners, an extremely unlikely prospect given current budget constraints,” the agency said, adding that it consistently monitors car cleanliness, and will soon employ the use of hand−held computers to help with this task.

Wide disparities in cleanliness were found across the system, the survey shows. Nine lines improved (4, 5, A, B, D, E, J, M and V), five lines grew worse (1, G, L, N and R) and eight lines remained statistically unchanged (2, 3, 6, 7, C, F, Q and W).

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