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Trash Containers Will Return to Metro Platforms

Cans Minimize Bomb Fallout

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page B01

The Metro transit system approved the purchase of bomb containment trash cans for station platforms yesterday, which will give riders a place to toss garbage trash for the first time since shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

The cans will start appearing in stations this summer. Between 250 and 300 of them will be installed by the end of the year at a cost of $800,000. Nearly 1,500 trash and recycling bins were removed from stations to bolster security and ease the concerns of jittery riders after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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Officials said the cans will be identical to 400 receptacles purchased in 2002 that were installed near fare machines and on mezzanines but not beyond fare gates. The stainless steel cans are fitted with steel linings and shock absorption material designed to withstand an explosion. Each can weighs 600 pounds.

The look and feel of Metro's stations have changed considerably in the years since trash cans were removed. Transit officials said coffee cups, wrappers and other garbage are more prevalent in stations, and the introduction of free daily newspapers has added to the refuse.

The result has been that the crisp, clean Metro that passengers have become used to has grown increasingly filthy in recent years, particularly at suburban stations. Officials are hoping that returning trash cans to platforms will help the subway reclaim its former shiny self.

"What we have seen was a lot of trash in the system," Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said. "We do think this is back to basics and back to the credo we had years ago."

Hanson added that more loose trash carries its own set of safety concerns, including increased chances of fire and exacerbating the presence of roaches, rats and other animals in stations. "No trash reduces the number of incidents we have," she said.

In addition to reinstalling trash cans, Metro has proposed investing $1.7 million in next year's budget to spiff up its system. The money would be used to double the staff that cleans cars at the ends of lines, add 10 cleaners at the system's busiest stations, create a special crew for incidents and clean buses once a week rather than every two weeks.

Also yesterday, the Metro board approved adding video cameras to 125 buses to help curb attacks on drivers. Metro has struggled to stop people from throwing snowballs and other projectiles at buses and drivers, and security officials said the cameras will allow them to catch culprits on video and prosecute them.

The cameras, which cost a total of $1 million, will be put on buses traveling routes along which incidents have been reported, officials said. Currently, 100 of the system's 1,400 buses have cameras. The 250 buses Metro has on order will also have cameras.

Metro board members also approved a plan to charge football fans $25 for parking at the newly opened Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center stations on Redskins game days. The stations are within walking distance of FedEx Field, and board members worried that Metro riders wouldn't be able to park and ride on game days. Officials said Metro riders would be allowed to park free, as they can at all stations on weekends.

The restrictions would be in effect starting three hours before games and ending two hours after.

The city's new baseball team also propelled action yesterday, as officials approved $1.2 million in the current budget to add service at the Stadium-Armory Station for the 40 home games the Washington Nationals will play during this fiscal year, through June 30. Board members also approved $2.5 million for next fiscal year, which includes roughly half the 2005 and 2006 baseball seasons.

Metro officials anticipate recouping all those expenses through revenue from increased use.

The Metro board also welcomed a new member yesterday as Dan Tangherlini, the District's director of transportation, was sworn in as an alternate, replacing Calvin Nophlin.

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