NYC subway trains stink, mold?
December 19, 2013 10:28 PM   Subscribe

I feel sick every time I get on to nyc subway trains. The N train is constantly stinky like urine and mcdonalds and feet, that triggered my multiple chemical sensitivity badly. I noticed 7 train usually have very fresh air which does not trigger my symptoms, as well as #6 train. R train is much better than N train, and E train is much better than F train. I want to know what caused these nasty stinky trains? Are all odor caused by mold? Btw: I can't tolerate PATH smell as well. I'm so confused people in these trains seem do not feel anything. Any information or comment are welcome.
posted by pack2themoon to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Trains in NYC stink because the subway has millions of riders every week. I'm not sure that there's more of an answer than that.
posted by dfriedman at 10:34 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Why is N train so stinky, while 7 train is very fresh?
posted by pack2themoon at 10:41 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's because the 7 runs above ground and get fresher air? 6 might be cleaner because the cars are newer than the ones used on the N line. Fewer people ride the E than the F.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:49 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. Old trains vs. newer models. NYC subway trains are typically in use for decades. When I moved to NYC in 2000 there was still some stock in use that had been around since the 60s. The trains with the blue seats and electronic displays are a lot newer than the trains with the yellow/orange/cream seats and faux wood paneling trim.

2. I wonder if trains that spend a lot of time above ground, or trains that have shorter routes or fewer riders smell better?

3. What point in the route or time of day you ride might have something to do with it, too. The N from Times Square to Atlantic Ave at 7pm might be stinkier than the 7 from Port Authority to Jackson Ave at 5 AM.

I also think that the system being operational 24/7 has something to do with the smells. I feel like other cities don't have as much as a problem as New York does, but that's because those train cars are in use for fewer hours per day and there's a substantial down time where trains can be cleaned more thoroughly.
posted by Sara C. at 12:27 AM on December 20, 2013

Homeless people sometimes sleep in the end of the car until they're kicked out (hey, they're in a tough spot, and it's probably one of the safer options available). They'll prefer certain routes: ones that are less busy, that take a long time to get to the end of the line (or wherever the next checkpoint is where the train enters the yard and everyone is forced to get off), or maybe ones that pass through a station that's easy to sneak into. Try riding in the middle cars, the ones with the conductor.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:06 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

The trains get worse in the winter, especially the A train as many homeless people ride them to be out of the cold.

Listen, as a fellow rider I often find the experience profoundly unpleasant but I don't drive and it's wayyy too far to walk to my job. So, you are not alone but really, I don't talk about it because I just take it as a given.

(And definitely 7 train is above ground, may be newer, and I would imagine is used significantly less than some of the other underground main Manhattan express trains- N, A etc).
posted by bquarters at 5:21 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

The N train is my train and there are *always* homeless people sleeping on it. Every time. Maybe it's known as a train that's less hassle to sleep on than others?
posted by gaspode at 5:26 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of this is about the quantity of homeless people on the train. Also, police care about some trains more than others. Trains that go through wealthier neighborhoods have a lot more attention than others.
posted by corb at 6:20 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

On many of the older trains, you can't open the doors between cars (F, N, R). These ones always seem stinkier to me.
posted by elizardbits at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Um, it's NYC … Millions of people riding cars that are seldom replaced (only repaired) will leave behind myriad smells, etc. Many of the older trains have windows that don't open so I'm sure that doesn't help. Anecdotally, I rode the N regularly for about two years and never noticed that it smelled any worse than the city's other trains.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2013

elizardbits makes a good point - they recently made it illegal to open the doors in between trains. It's possible that some lines also have more or less extra-law-abiding people who do or do not do this.
posted by corb at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2013

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