This morning, as I stepped to the stairway that brings me into Brooklyn’s 86th street subway station on the R line, I was greeted by two MTA employees who handed me MTA’s ‘Rider Report Card’ to fill out and mail in. As I started down the steps, I noticed something different than the usual routine; the stairway was an absolute mess. The turnstile level was just as messy. Litter was strewn about the steps and floor of the station. This wasn’t the normal subway station clutter; it caught me off guard immediately. Several other employees stood by the turnstiles handing out report cards.
I bought a new monthly pass and headed through the turnstile. Above the stairs leading down to the platform there were another 10 or so MTA employees holding stacks of report cards, just socializing with each other amongst the litter. When I saw this, I became disgusted. Why were they all standing around while there was a huge cluttered mess throughout the station? Why couldn’t they even pick up the report cards that had been discarded?
Then I got more upset as my cynical side kicked in. Could there be some perverse incentive for the MTA employees to want the station cluttered? Would a failing grade for cleanliness cause hiring of more maintenance employees?
Strangely, the train platform was its usual shape, with limited clutter. No employees were present on the platform. As the train arrived and I took my seat, I decided to blog this incident. I wished I had taken pictures, but it was too late for that. I will be prepared to photograph tonight and tomorrow if this peculiar incident repeats itself.
Is anyone familiar with how the report cards are used? Is the fact the 10-20 employees weren’t cleaning the mess just a by-product of union turfs? Or was it a truly perverse system of incentives created by how the report cards were to be used to make funding decisions?