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Subway Watchdog Releases Annual "Schmutz" Report

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The Straphangers Campaign has released its annual report on how clean things are underground, which for the third year in a row finds a need for improvement on several subway lines. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.

It's a dirty story, and The Straphangers Campaign is telling it. Their annual subway "Schmutz Report" found only 47 percent of subway cars passed the clean test in 2010, down four percentage points in just one year. The campaign says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 10 percent cut in cleaning staff, or 131 cleaners, may be to blame.

"They promised to do as well with fewer hands is not turning out to be the case," said Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign.

The survey found the R was the dirtiest with only about one out of every four cars rated as clean. On a recent trip underground, NY1 didn't find the R particularly dirty, but riders said it is.

"There's bums that sleep on the train and urinate all over the train," said one straphanger.

"I just moved to Florida like a year ago and I came back and I feel like it's dirty more filthy and smelly," said another.

The campaign says 44 volunteers graded 100 cars on each of the 20 lines.

"We are talking about grime. It's called the 'Schmutz Survey' and it's about people going to track in grime when it's raining, when they are walking around the city and there is dirt. So we don't rate litter," Russianoff said.

Straphangers say it rates cleanliness basically the same way the MTA does. If the floors and seats are relatively dirt-free and there are only a few spots that are hardened then it gets a clean rating.

The survey found the M was the most improved. The 6, B, E, L and R all significantly dirtier. Other lines stayed about the same.

The 7 train was found to be relatively schmutz free as 68 percent of its cars were rated clean.

The MTA says 94 percent of their cars are clean. Despite reduced funding, the agency added, "We have managed our resources in such a way as to have minimal impact on car appearance by monitoring car cleanliness and adjusting the deployment of cleaning staff to react to changing conditions."

The agency is again asking riders to pitch in, saying they also play a role in keeping things clean, or at least cleaner.

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