2. Vacuum Cars

Vakmobile being tested. Photo via Flickr by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The MTA has tried many different methods and machines to keep tracks clean. In 2018, the MTA began operating several new 600-horsepower vacuum trains known as VakTraks. These cars travel at 5 to 10 miles per hour and suck up garbage. The customized trains were built in France at a cost of $7.6 million each. They run on diesel fuel with near zero emissions and are considered the most modern vacuum trains in the world. Various suction hoods on the bottom of the car suck up and then separate dust and garbage from the tracks. A filter car stores up to 14 cubic yards of debris. Unlike older vacuum cars used, which had to clean stations two or three times, the new vacuum train can achieve the same level of cleanliness in just one pass.

Keeping garbage off the tracks is imperative to help combat the growth of the rat population and to avoid track fires. The MTA also tested a Vakmobile in 2017, a miniature mobile unit that was battery-powered. The machine stayed on the platform while workers went onto the tracks with a vacuum hose to collect the garbage. The new VakTrak cars proved more efficient.