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Subway Cleaners Returning After MTA Trash Plan Backfires

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A year after the MTA cut tons of overnight cleaning shifts to save money, they're bringing some of those shifts back after finding that some of the stations were just too dirty.

On 231st Street, along the 1 line, there's not too much trash to speak of. It's a big difference compared to what some subway stations looked like overnight.

Many late night subway riders haven't seen subway cleaners since the MTA made a series of budget cuts however, the cost has been a smelly mess for the agency's customers.

"There's always like garbage like cigarettes, plastic, bags, rats," Jennifer Garcia of Harlem said.

MORE: Debris On Tracks, Switch Problems Prompt Service Changes, Delays On Several Subway Lines

Overnight riders have been dealing with trash just piling up, not only in the bins, but all over the platforms.

"Bags, people from the MTA do nothing, garbage on the grounds," another Harlem resident told CBS2's Marc Liverman.

It was all part of a year-long pilot program that moved station cleaners off their overnight shifts on several lines and onto other shifts instead.

The MTA hoped the program would save it some money and actually result in cleaner stations, but it ended up doing exactly the opposite.

"There's a lot of trash on the tracks, on the platform, just around everywhere," Chyna Griffith of Kingsbridge added.

Now, transit officials are bringing those shifts back. The MTA told CBS2 they're taking a "fresh look at that pilot program."

Riders hope that will mean a more fresh-smelling wait for their train.

File of a MTA subway cleaner. (Credit: CBS2)

"It's good to hear because while I'm here I don't want to have to smell a different smell every time I come to the subway platform," rider George Hudson explained.

CBS2 asked MTA officials exactly how many workers the program moved from their overnight shifts and how many stations and lines were affected, but the agency did not provide details.

"We told the MTA last year that their plan to practically eliminate overnight cleaner positions stunk to high heaven. We're glad the new administration now appears to agree and is restoring positions at the affected stations," a statement from Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said.

The overnight shifts are expected to go back into effect early next year.

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