NYC officials removed subway garbage bins in an experiment. Did you think it would work?

❝ Faced with too much trash in one of the world’s biggest — and arguably dirtiest — subway systems, New York transit officials tried an unusual social experiment. They removed garbage bins from 39 out of the more than 400 stations, figuring that would deter people from bringing trash into the system…

People who toss their soda bottles and potato chip bags onto platforms and tracks kept doing it, causing fires. And hungry rats kept scurrying through stations, drawn by garbage.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority run by New York state decided to put the bins back.

❝ “It took the MTA five years, but we are gratified that it recognized the need to end this controversial experiment that showed little to no improvements in riders’ experience,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who had released audits saying that fires started by trash thrown on the tracks system-wide didn’t decrease as a result of the program…

❝ In any case, the MTA has moved on to a more traditional solution for dealing with the 40 tons of daily garbage in the subways: an intense cleanup campaign.

Last summer, the MTA launched its “Operation Track Sweep” program. Workers are cleaning about 90 stations every two weeks, three times as many as previously. Portable track vacuums are being tested and the agency is purchasing more vacuum trains and cars that pick up the contents of 3,500 station receptacles more frequently.

The agency says the cleaning effort has resulted in the number of track fires dropping by 41 percent.

Providing services – which not so incidentally provide useful jobs – is likely to provide benefits faster than retraining the habits of millions of people. Works as well as the opposite. Want to get rid of bad habits. Make them more expensive, eh?

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