Transit Wash Systems Around the World: How New York MTA Keeps Their Trains Clean

Jun 23rd 2019

New York City is known for its aged, bustling public transportation. With so many residents of the Big Apple using trains on a daily (and nightly) basis, a serious transit wash system is necessary to keep the interiors and exteriors of the trains as clean as possible.

Most New Yorkers have experienced a dirty train at some point—it’s unavoidable. While it may seem that New York trains have a reputation for being filthy—and they certainly can be at times—it’s important to realize that keeping every train spotless every minute of every day is simply not possible and that clean trains are often simply taken for granted.

A team of dedicated MTA employees and some powerful N/S Corporation train wash systems go a long way in giving passengers a relatively sanitary experience. You may still want to avoid holding onto the pole, though . . . just to be safe. Just try not to imagine what the trains would look like without the unsung MTA heroes doing their jobs.

Read on to learn about how MTA trains are washed, as well as how the subway platforms are maintained.

Interior Cleaning Methods

On average, 5.9 million people ride NYC trains every day. With that staggering figure in mind, you should not be surprised that an intense transit wash system is required to maintain cleanliness. That said, it may surprise you to learn that the interiors of New York’s subway cars are actually cleaned entirely by hand!

That’s right. Every bit of dirt, grime, and, well, other substances are hand-wiped by hard-working individuals. Cleaners meticulously remove gum, erase graffiti, wipe the windows, and use industrial floor cleaners to remove the dirt, sand, mud, and other grime from the floor. The workers also use special chemicals to prevent the buildup of rust and corrosion on metal parts.

Next time you’re riding the subway, you can breathe a little easier knowing that the employees use a wide variety of powerful chemicals—including plenty of bleach—to completely disinfect the inside of every car.

That said, this transit wash system isn’t flawless, as trains generally only get a full top-to-bottom scrubbing roughly every two and a half months. They do, however, get a lighter nightly cleaning and sweeping when they reach the terminal point on the line to keep trains habitable.

How the Exterior Gets Cleaned

There are 24 MTA rail yards in New York City where trains are cleaned, repaired, and maintained. N/S Corporation is proud to have installed dozens of train wash systems throughout the entire state of New York at which the exteriors of trains are thoroughly power-washed.

The Coney Island Tower is the biggest cleaning center. Every week, roughly 1,000 cars get their exteriors washed, for a grand total of more than 50,000 washes every year. Fortunately for MTA employees, unlike the interiors of the trains, the washing isn’t done by hand. Our transit wash system facilitates fast, effective washing, thanks to our cutting-edge equipment.

Subway Platform Upkeep

Beyond just cleaning the trains themselves, MTA employees are tasked with keeping subway platforms cleaned. After all, nearly six million people walk on the hundreds of subway platforms—that’s almost 12 million dirty shoes.

Naturally, sweeping and mopping the platforms by hand would be a serious undertaking. That’s why employees use high-powered water cannons to blast dirt, trash, and other debris off the platforms and onto the tracks. But don’t worry, that’s not the end of the line for all of that mess.

The next phase of this transit wash system involves a rare beast of a train: the garbage train, or the “Vakmobile,” as it’s officially known. These trains don’t carry passengers. They’re 224 feet long, and they have two cars with 465-horsepower engines to keep the Vakmobile chugging along at around eight miles per hour.

The other two cars have high-powered vacuums that suck up a whopping 70,000 cubic feet of air every minute. So, if you ever happen to see MTA employees blasting trash onto the tracks, don’t worry. It’s only there temporarily until the trash train rolls through to make all that stuff magically vanished by the next morning. Now you know how.

Maintenance-Free Washing Equipment

N/S Corporation is the clear leader when it comes to designing the most efficient transit wash system equipment on the market. Our systems are virtually maintenance-free, allowing employees to focus on doing their jobs.

When you have such a large-scale transit system, efficiency is absolutely critical, and the state of New York chose N/S Corporation because they recognized our commitment to excellence. We’re proud to offer the unparalleled experience and dedication required to stand out in this competitive field.

Here at N/S Corporation, we’re never satisfied. We’re always looking for new ways to innovate our train wash systems so we can remain at the forefront of the industry. Whether you need a basic transit wash system for a small fleet of buses or a massive-scale system for an entire city’s transit infrastructure, we’re ready and able to deliver the best systems in the world.

Contact Us to Learn More

While our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is located in Los Angeles, California, we have installed and maintained hundreds of cutting-edge washing systems in New York alone, as well as plenty more domestically and internationally. We can help you minimize maintenance costs and reduce your environmental footprint, all while providing the best equipment and customer service in the industry.

If your company needs a washing system for a fleet of cars, buses, trains, or any other large vehicles, we encourage you to contact us so we can create a world-class transit wash system that meets all of your needs. Improve efficiency while keeping your customers happy with our incredible vehicle washing systems.