As Transit tries to make its garbage collection problem go away, news coverage of the effort has found a comfortable narrative: The debate focuses around rider behavior and Transit services. As a forum on Thursday, Transit president Thomas Prendergast said the trash can-free pilot has been a success. MTA workers have found the stations without trash cleaner while the MTA hasn’t had to deal with as much trash.
Yet despite this early success, riders aren’t happy even as they’re complying with the new rules. “They’re are a lot of people that think it’s backwards and that it’s not what we should do. So, we haven’t been able to change their mind from a perceptual standpoint. But from a behavioral standpoint, we have,” Prendergast said.
Perhaps, then, these riders have taken their cues from rider advocates. Speaking at the same forum, Straphangers Campaign head Gene Russianoff explained how he feels trash cans are a no-brainer. “It’s a service to your customers to give them a waste paper basket,” he said. Should the MTA be able to provide both garbage cans and subway service for its passengers? As I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s a question that reaches the fundamental core of the MTA’s role. Likely they should be able to offer both, but customers seem to respect the station environment more if there are no trash cans. If I have to pick one, I’m opting for a cleaner station with no trash cans over a dirtier station with such a can.