Last year, there were more than 700 fires in the New York City subway system, and nearly all of them were caused by excess garbage on the tracks. Track fires are one of the leading causes of service delays on the subway, and the MTA wants to hold the city's litterbugs accountable.
On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new initiative dubbed “Keep It Clean,” doubling the fine for littering on the subway from $50 to $100 and coming up with a very government-y PSA video urging straphangers to dispose of their trash properly (watch it above). The governor's announcement also pointed out that trash buildup also causes flooding on the subway when debris clogs up drains, which in turn speeds up the breakdown of track plates and railroad ties.
"Littering is not only illegal but dangerous and directly causes hundreds of thousands of delays, inconveniencing millions of New Yorkers," Cuomo said on Wednesday. "This initiative will help stop littering-related delays at the source, improving reliability and helping the MTA deliver the subway service that New Yorkers deserve."
When Cuomo and MTA chairman Joe Lhota presented their new emergency plan to fix the subway system in July, they promised to work to reduce track fires by cracking down on littering. Beyond the increased fines, it's unclear how officials will fight the scourge of litterbugs in the city (adding more trash cans could be a start).
If you do find yourself in a situation where you're tempted to litter on the subway (or anywhere in the city), try to remember that doing so could ruin the days of thousands of weary New Yorkers. If you throw your garbage on the tracks regardless, you're even worse than people who wear their backpacks on the subway.