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Track Cleaning Begins At All 469 Subway Stations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched a two-week blitz against track trash on Monday, and riders said it's about time.

More than 500 workers will be cleaning all of the system's 469 stations as part of Operation Track Sweep.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, trash on subway tracks gets riders hot under the collar.

"They don't do a good job," said Jose from Bensonhurst. "Clean it up. Have more workers and clean them up – then they won't have no fire on the tracks, and we get to work on time."

"Trash brings rats. In fact, I saw a rat 10 minutes ago up at the subway station on 161st Street in the Bronx," said Jonathan Goltzman of the Upper East Side.

Track trash is not just an eyesore. It causes track fires, which in turn cause train delays. Riders said they are thrilled the MTA is finally doing something about it.

"I say hallelujah – long time coming," said city Comptroller Scott Stringer. "I mean, the truth of the matter is when you look at the mess on the tracks and on the platforms, you realize just how the MTA has fallen off the job."

Over a year ago, an audit by Stringer found that just 3 percent of the tracks were cleaned according to the MTA's own standards.

MTA riders said the agency should be cleaning the tracks all the time.

"I see big rats," said Rosa Rios of the Upper West Side.

"They could always be better," said Jamal Almon of Staten Island.

"They need to do a better job at accommodating us, because we're customers, we pay, and we expect – you know, we expect a certain level of convenience," Goltzman said.

CBS2's Kramer asked Prendergast why the effort was to last just two weeks.

"This is intense," he said. "I mean, we have a regular program and personnel assigned on a regular basis, but we're trying to get ahead of it, and we're seeing if a one-time cleanup – very intense – and asking our customers to help us as well, will make a difference."

The irony is that the tracks are a mess even though there are plenty of trash cans on the platform.

The MTA said its budget for trash collection, tile washing, and station cleaning has gone up every year since 2011.

The intensive trash collection will start at 11 p.m. at the Union Square station complex. Officials said underground work will be done at night when ridership is the lightest, while stations above ground will be cleaned during the day.

And some new tools may be on the way. This fall, the MTA will be testing new track vacuum systems.

For more information, click here.

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