Tuesday, April 5, 2011

US: Cash-poor MTA may put recipients of unemployment benefits to work again cleaning subways

The cash-strapped MTA may soon put welfare recipients to work scrubbing and cleaning the subways.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to revive its participation in the city's Work Experience Program - which makes the unemployed toil for their benefit checks.

"This is a program that has a proven track record of doing three things: providing low-cost cleaning help for the subway; providing job training to people who need it, and leading directly to full-time employment for many of the people who participate in the program," MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

The MTA eliminated 173 cleaner positions last year in a series of budget cuts that slashed a total of about 3,500 jobs.

Subway riders told about the plan Monday largely gave it a thumbs up.

"I think it's a fair way to get the subways clean," Joanna Kielbiowski, 32, of New Hyde Park, L.I., said at a midtown subway station. "Sometimes when I take the subway, it's disgusting."

Adam Salah, 21, of the Bronx said the program would be "a good way to get people on their feet ... and get the subway cleaner."

Michael Pollack, 29, of Long Beach, L.I., was on the fence.

"I feel like saying yes and no," Pollack said. "On some level, it's exploitation of people in a bad position. On the other hand, a lot of people wait around looking for a handout, and this is a way for them to earn it." (read more)