The New York City subway board will vote Wednesday on whether to officially ban pooping on the city’s public transportation over concerns that incidents of defecation are putting riders in danger of contracting the novel coronavirus — and reports that crews are spending more time cleaning subway cars amid a spike in “soiled subways,” per the New York Post.
Technically, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says, pooping on public transportation is already banned, though the rules refer to creating an “unsanitary condition” and not to defecation specifically.
“The dirty deed is already barred under current rules, which subject any rider to a $100 fine for ‘create[ing] a nuisance, hazard, or unsanitary condition (including, but not limited to, spitting or urinating),'” the New York Post notes in a separate report. “But the rule change will specifically add ‘defecating’ to the list of bodily expulsions.”
The MTA also issued a temporary “poop ban” back in April, when the New York City government issued a host of new coronavirus-related regulations aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. At the time, New York state was leading the nation in coronavirus diagnoses, and most of those who contracted the virus lived or worked in New York City.
At one point, experts at MIT believed that the NYC subway system was functioning as a “super-spreader” for the virus. “New York City’s multitentacled subway system was a major disseminator — if not the principal transmission vehicle — of coronavirus infection during the initial takeoff of the massive epidemic,” one expert noted in the MIT study, adding that reduced subway service forced essential workers, who were more likely to come into contact with the virus, into even closer confines, increasing their chances of spreading COVID-19.
After the city lifted the coronavirus-related restrictions, the NY Post notes, the “soiled subways” situation worsened.
“Complaints of ‘soiled’ subways are piling up, with skeeved straphangers reporting more cars caked with garbage, food spills and human waste so far in 2019 than in all of 2017, according to MTA data,” the NY Post reported back in late August. “Having already blown past the 1,504 reports logged in 2017, this year’s 1,623 complaints as of the end of August are on pace to obliterate 2018’s year-end tally of 2,058, the agency said — to the surprise of absolutely no New Yorkers.”
The MTA suggested that train cars weren’t actually getting dirtier, however, just that concerned New Yorkers, worried about contracting COVID-19 in unsanitary conditions, were reporting incidents of bodily fluid to the MTA lines more often.
Since the MTA also couldn’t pinpoint precisely who was causing the problem — “It’s not only the homeless,” one official said, “it’s all types of people” — they decided the rules about pooping on public transportation simply needed to be clearer.
“MTA rules are periodically tweaked to enhance clarity, and that’s the case with the addition of more descriptive language,” MTA spokesman Tim Minton said in a statement, per the NY Post. “Ensuring the transportation system provides an appropriate quality of life experience for our workforce and customers is a guiding principle and top priority.”
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