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NYC subway cleaner
Photograph: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Leonard Wiggins

Nearly 800 subway cleaners have been hired to shine up underground trains

They will all be full-time, unionized employees!

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Finally, our subways are getting cleaned.

Earlier this week, New York City Transit President Rich Davey announced that the agency is planning on hiring a total of 800 full-time employees to shine up both subway stations and trains in the upcoming months. Hiring about 40 new cleaners per month, there are already 150 folks on staff for the sought-after job.

"We had 75,000 applicants, if you can imagine that, [since we started doing this in the fall]," said Davey.

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) spent nearly $200 million hiring private contractors to clean our trains during the pandemic, complaints about low pay and lack of benefits quickly dominated conversations about the topic back then.

This time around, the employees will be full-time, unionized workers. Great news indeed!

"I think for riders, people are paying attention that we’re not accepting dilapidated stations as the status quo," Davey said during an official meeting.

Quite literally putting his money where his mouth is, the president also sent a direct message to his various station managers.

"You need 80 scrubbing machines? Done," he rhetorically asked them. "You need more station cleaners? Done. You need the power to move station cleaning schedules around? Done."

The news follows a bunch of other subway-related updates meant to turn New Yorkers' commuting experiences into less soul-draining ones. 

A bunch of futuristic-looking customer service centers will replace subway token booths, for example, while these "wide-aisle" turnstiles will be installed at two subway stations this spring, hopefully benefiting commuters in wheelchairs and those pushing strollers through the hubs.

And in case you missed it, you can read all about New York State's potential ban on "dangerous" people in NYC subways right here.

Our public transportation system may not be quite on par with the stellar ones that European cities lay claim to... but we're getting there.

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