Sticky subject on the NYC subway

January 31, 2008 4:43:05 AM PST
Some subway stations' concrete floors gum up efforts to keep them clean, transit officials are acknowledging as they consider standards for future floors.

While subway workers dutifully scrub discarded chewing gum off areas with porcelain or granite tiles, when it comes to concrete floors, "essentially, we leave it down," NYC Transit President Howard Roberts Jr. said Wednesday.

It's tougher to uproot gum from concrete than tile, agency spokesman Paul Fleuranges explained.

NYC Transit is spending six months studying what material to use in future in the subway system's 277 underground stations. Concrete is far cheaper to install - $421,000 for a standard station, as against $1.7 million for granite tiles, officials said. But the agency also will compare cleaning and maintenance costs.

Either way, rider advocates want the gum conundrum resolved.

"It's not attractive, and you know where it came from ... from someone's mouth," said William Henderson, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee. The MTA is NYC Transit's parent agency.