Hey 3, 4, 6: You Got a Little Shmutz There

New York City commuters awoke this morning to the grim reality that improved mass transit service is not in the cards anytime soon; but if it’s any consolation subways have gotten (slightly) cleaner since 2005, according to the ninth annual “Subway Shmutz” report released today by the Straphangers Campaign.

On the whole, the results will probably not do much to brighten an otherwise gloomy day for subway passengers—unless you happen to ride the L or the 7. Between Sept. 20, 2007, and Jan. 11, 2008, Straphangers inspected 2,200 subway cars on 22 lines and found that half were “clean," up from 47 percent when the last survey was conducted in 2005.

Subway cars were rated on the cleanliness of floors and seats, according to the M.T.A.’s official standards. The ones that were "basically dirt free" or had "light dirt"—"occasional ‘ground-in’ spots but generally clean"—were rated clean.

The survey found nine lines had improved noticeably (2, 7, B, E, G, J/Z, L, M, and V); six had deteriorated (3, 4, 6, C, D, and Q); and seven lines remained basically unchanged (1, 5, A, F, N, R, and W).

The L—which transports gaggles of young professionals and quasi-hipsters from Union Square to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg—was by far the best-performing line, with 88 percent of its cars rated clean, up from 61 percent two years ago. The second best line was the 7, with 78 percent clean cars up from 22 percent clean cars in 2005.

The worst performing lines were the E and Q, each of which had only 29 percent clean cars. This was still a marked improvement for the E compared to two years ago, when only only 2 percent of its cars rated clean. Hey 3, 4, 6: You Got a Little Shmutz There