R-evolting! Southern Brooklynites to lose overnight cleaners at nine ‘toilet-like’ R stops

Swept away: Workers who clean Southern Brooklyn stops, such as these two men at the 36th Street station, won’t be sweeping stations overnight under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority new pilot program.
Brooklyn Paper
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Don’t call it a clean sweep.

A new Metropolitan Transportation Authority program will cut the number of overnight janitors at Bay Ridge and Sunset Park subway stations from four to one, not nearly enough hands to clean the nine R train stops that some degenerate riders use as a public toilet each night, according to a rep with the union behind the custodians.

“That line is crazy when it comes to sanitation. It’s a cesspool,” said Joe Bermudez, the chairman of the stations division at the Transport Workers Union Local 100. “It stinks of urine because it’s a neighborhood where people do what they gotta do and keep moving. That’s just the way people are there.”

The pilot program, which will begin early this summer, designates just one of the city’s 1,740 subway scrubbers based out of the 36th Street station to the nightly task of cleaning debris, vomit, and feces from stops beginning at Prospect Avenue, near the Park Slope-Sunset Park border, through 95th Street in Bay Ridge — a route that Bermudez says workers notoriously try to avoid because of its trashy reputation. Graveyard shifts at the nine stations are being phased out this summer in favor of repositioning workers’ shifts after rush hours, according to Bermudez.

Bay Ridge Avenue and 53rd Street are closed for renovations until the fall and the Prospect Avenue station is slated to close June 5 for another six months-worth of upgrades, but Bermudez still has reservations about how feasible it is for one person to spruce up the stations, especially with revolting straphangers stinking up the place.

“I used to clean there and behind a column someone was taking a dump and urinating all the time,” said the Gravesend native who has since settled in bucolic Staten Island. “It is a lot of ground to cover.”

On top of cleaning up after riders, the workers populate stations and provide a layer of protection for late-night commuters. And some locals fear the shift in service could empower opportunists.

“It would worry me that someone might take advantage of that there’s even less people around,” said Bay Ridgite Margaret Agan, who works as a nurse at Lutheran Medical Center. “I work crazy hours and I’m on the train at all hours of the day. Sometimes I only see MTA workers around and it makes me feel a little safer when I have to take the train late.”

Removing overnight cleaners from the desolate stations could result in behavior far worse than public defecation, according to Bermudez.

“In my 23 years of service for the transit authority I cannot believe that they are opening the door to such uncertainty and security risks,” he said.

The authority and union reps are in the process of hammering out the details, but Bermudez says the arrangement is essentially a done deal.

“This is happening,” he said. “The only people who can stop it are the customers in the community letting people know they don’t want to be subject to a Russian roulette travel to work.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 5:59 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jimmy Walker from Looking Down at You says:
Great election year move Mayor Wilhelm.
May 23, 2017, 9:48 am
tony from sunset says:
I was ready to advocate on behalf of my community & these local 100 union members (I was a member years ago working out of 36th Street as an electrician)....but when I heard the insulting remarks of their union, towards us Sunset Parkers, I say "hold the workers accountable - obviously they are NOT working - they have no respect for Sunset Parkers - so they ignore their cleaning the ones that don't work and make the others work a full shift instead of finding places to sleep".
May 23, 2017, 9:52 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I came from Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights, and don't recognize these workers' description of the inhabitants. I'd bet that most of the sanitation issues arise from homeless people, who see the far ends of the R line as an opportunity. Now the MTA wants to give them more opportunity. Ridiculous.

tony from sunset: I'm with you on the workers, but I think working a full shift would violate MTA union rules, which probably require 15 minutes of work after every 45 minutes of napping and chatting. Show me a non-union employee in any corporate office who takes as many breaks, and I'll show you someone newly and swiftly unemployed.
May 23, 2017, 10:50 am
Jimmy Hoffa from Giants Stadium says:
One scrubber can clean four stations a night. If the person works
May 23, 2017, 11:11 am
Jane from Bay Ridge says:
To Sean F from Bensonhurst-I live in Bay Ridge and have taken trains from various points along the R from 95 St. to 53 St., and I've seen creeps doing this at all hours of the day and night. And it's NOT the homeless ones I've seen doing it. I've also seen adult males using the jungle gyms in the parks that are open on the overnight as bathrooms because, as one put it to me when I chased him off, "I didn't want to wait until I got home", but that's another problem all together. Yes, it's every day inhabitants of the neighborhood that do this. And I've watched the MTA employees completely ignore it happening.
May 23, 2017, 11:17 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US, formerly from WB, BK, NY, US says:
Like the pilot program to get rid of trash cans by the corruptive and deceptive MTA, this pilot program will be a total disaster because it will make the subway stations much dirtier tan before, attracting rats altogether.
May 23, 2017, 11:30 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Jane from BR Thanks for the current perspective. Much appreciated.

A few weeks ago, I walked around the corner coming to my home around 8pm to find a guy peeing on the tree in front of my house. When I said something, he just walked off up the street, hanging free and still peeing as he walked along. Left a trail the length of three full houses (I'm guessing he'd been drinking).

Two weeks before that, I was sitting in my car in the driveway, having a talk with my daughter after picking her up from an event. A car pulled up across my drive, and a well-dressed woman stepped out, looked around, and started to lift up her skirt to pee. I turned on my headlights. She jumped into her car with her skirt still hiked up, and peeled off down the street.
May 23, 2017, 11:48 am
Jane from Bay Ridge says:
@ Sean F-YES!!! When/where/how it became acceptable to do this is beyond me.

And when you call them out on it, they get at mad at you, like you've done something wrong!
May 23, 2017, 11:51 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I've seen isolated incidences of this for years. Some 18 years ago, I was in my son's room settling him in for the night when I heard a noise in the driveway. I leaned out his window, to see a woman starting to squat between my car and the house, with a man standing watch. I yelled. She hit her head on my sideview mirror, and then had the nerve to yell at me that I was very rude. By the time I got downstairs, they were hi-tailing it up the street.

But, I admit these are the only three incidents I've witnessed in 20 years in my current home, and 50 years in South Brooklyn.
May 23, 2017, 11:58 am
Jspech from Bedstuy says:
Come on, 30 yrs in NYC I have seen people from all backgrounds in all the boros. reliving themselves in public & the subways.

We like to pin stuff too much on specific groups.
May 23, 2017, 1:32 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Not since the 70s has it been a better time to leave NYC.

De Blasio was on NY1 speaking from the Bronx Zoo, but I did not know it. I heard him talking about how the new homeless shelters would eventually become low rent housing. So I said out loud, "stupid monkey". Just then actual monkeys started sounding off in the background. Blew my mind.
May 23, 2017, 4:58 pm
diehipster from Crushing Calebs says:
I could mop an entire station with one gentrifying hipster flipped upside down. Its been done.
May 23, 2017, 5:09 pm
SCP from Sunset Park says:
How about NYC starts providing public restrooms that have some privacy, are clean, etc, and then people wont resort to relieving themselves wherever they please? Its extremely difficult to find a decent restroom in the city! They need to allocate some $ towards this. Pay the homeless to clean & restock them! Hell, even charge a quarter to use the restroom. That would add up quick.
May 23, 2017, 5:15 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I will defecate steaming mounds of excrement on subway staircases. I will let loose flowing rivers of urine on the platforms. I will drop piles of organic food wrappers near the turnstiles. All this to manifest my unhappiness with the cleanliness of R train stations to my elected representatives.

That is what I will do.
May 23, 2017, 10:06 pm
Molly Flowers from Park Slope says:
Many of the people who live in Sunset park come from countries without toilets. They are not used to our American way, because back in China or Mexico everywhere is a toilet. We have to understand their culture - it's not like ours. Someone should tell them that poop and urine spread disease and we find them gross in this country. Maybe in their own language, because they do not speak English.
May 24, 2017, 4:44 am
dieforeigner from chopping charlies says:
saw some china woman letting one of her brood defecate on the corner of 84th and 5th ave in broad daylight. must be some of the 'best of the best' we're bringing in from the third world...
May 28, 2017, 8:10 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
dieforeigner from chopping charlies: China is a Second World country.
May 30, 2017, 9:50 am

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