Please stand clear of the pool of vomit.
But they’re not the only ones. Train crews have plenty of stories about dealing with such messes without hazmat suits, goggles or gloves and their fear of being exposed to bodily waste that’s infectious.
And then there’s the cleanup, in which many soiled cars are tidied up at the last stop on a line to avoid service interruptions instead of being sent to a yard to be disinfected.
When service resumes, passengers are unaware that they are riding in a car that was soiled by human waste or blood and barely cleaned.
Train operator Benjamin Valdes recalls the time he had to deal with vomit spewed around a car of his N train.
The train wasn’t taken out of service for cleaning, Valdes told The News. Instead, he was instructed to isolate the car. “I just had to tiptoe around it,” he said. “It’s disgusting. You don’t know what’s in it.”
“They didn’t want to send it to the yard,” Valdes said. “They wanted to use it for service.”
When the train reached its last stop, he said the car was given a quick cleanup and proceeded to pick up riders.
Valdes complained to the state Department of Labor’s Public Employee Safety & Health Bureau about the lack of protective gear and access to wash rooms. No violations were found and his complaint was closed.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority could not provide a number for how many times a single soiled car was isolated to keep a train in service. But, between May 1, 2018, and Feb. 1, the agency dumped passengers from about 400 trains because of messy conditions.
Transit’s tweets on @NYCTSubway are sometimes explicit about conditions in cars.
The News found 137 delay alerts on Twitter since January 2018 regarding cars deemed “dirty,” “soiled,” and “unsanitary,” or with “human waste(poop),” “blood” and “vomit.”
Delays are a byproduct of messy situations, whether a car is isolated and passengers must move to other cars, or a train is taken out of service.
Transit officials say it is preferable to isolate a car to keep a train rolling outside rush hours, but when trains run more frequently during peak times, soiled trains are more likely to be taken out of service.
“The decision to discharge a train or isolate a car is always made with customer and employee safety prioritized, and with an additional focus on keeping delays and crowd conditions to an absolute minimum,” MTA spokesman Maxwell Young said.
Transit officials say crews do not have contact with bodily waste when isolating a car, so protective gear is unnecessary.
But train crews say they get too close for comfort. Standard practice to isolate a car requires the train operator and conductor to put a key into a lock, below knee level, on all doors of the car.
A train operator who works out of south Brooklyn recalled an evening on the N train last summer when a woman vomited in a car at a stop in Manhattan.
“It’s bad — it was a full stomach of vomit in the car,” the operator said.
With the car locked to keep passengers out, it was cleaned at Coney Island-Stillwell Ave, the last stop.
“You’re worried about whether you’re touching or coming into contact with it,” the operator said.
With Clayton Guse
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