Globe Watch

A need for cleanup at the Alewife T station

Trash was strewn in front of a bus waiting area outside the Alewife T station in Cambridge last week. Trash was strewn in front of a bus waiting area outside the Alewife T station in Cambridge last week. (Christina Pazzanese for The Boston Globe)
By Christina Pazzanese
Globe Correspondent / June 21, 2010

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Of all the reasons people complain about the MBTA, reader Sybelius Cooceeiko writes to GlobeWatch, it is the unpleasant and consistently disheveled state of the Alewife Station in Cambridge that is most annoying.

“Significant areas of station contain litter, especially outdoors benches at pickup area,’’ Cooceeiko wrote in an e-mail.

Unlike the cleaner who does a bang-up job mopping the Red Line platforms at South Station, over at Alewife, Cooceeiko said there is “Not a cleaner in sight. No customer service representative visible. These cleaners are not accountable it seems. They are in plenty at 7 a.m. dusting off useless areas and mopping platforms during rush hour but 7 at night, or later . . . not visible. The MBTA stations then are trashed and it shows until the next day. It doesn’t appear anyone’s supervising the cleaning staff,’’ Cooceeiko wrote. “Cleaners appear on scene and go about their way without MBTA involvement apparently.’’

During two visits last week by a Globe reporter at the height of the evening commute, train platforms appeared tidy. A lone maintenance worker pushed a large trash barrel around, emptying platform barrels and newspaper recycling bins while the platform floors and benches were free of litter.

But the attention to cleanliness was not as high upstairs in the station lobby area by train turnstiles, where commuters from the parking garage and those connecting to T bus lines all converge and where several vendors sell food and sundries. The floor and counters were littered with empty iced coffee cups, soft drink cans, food and drinking straw wrappers, a pile of spilled popcorn, and a couple of small bags of garbage.

One station vendor had a large stack of empty boxes and other refuse piled up outside his kiosk. In an adjacent ladies restroom, the trash can overflowed with used paper towels, there were large puddles of water on the floor, and the room smelled like — well, a train station bathroom. Up on the street level where riders wait for T buses to pull up, there were still more food wrappers, empty water bottles, used brown bags, and empty drink cups left on benches and on the ground.

After talking with the subway operations staff who oversee the cleaning of Alewife and other stations, a T spokeswoman said they will monitor station cleanup over the next few days to determine why things appear so unkempt, especially at night.

“I’m confident we can address this,’’ said Lydia Rivera. An outside contracting company, ABM Janitorial, currently has a total of four workers maintaining Alewife Monday through Friday, she said. Three cleaners are there from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. while one worker covers the station on the 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift, she said. Two cleaners handle the job on Saturdays and Sundays. Workers are supposed to clean the lobby, the bus areas, bathrooms, as well as drop-off areas including the parking lot and station landings, she said. The decline in maintenance at Alewife may be remedied by simply adding more staff to the evening shift, something the T is willing to do, said Rivera.

Richard A. Davey
MBTA General Manager
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910
Boston, MA 02116

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