Commuting on the daily, New Yorkers fail to realize (or just block out) exactly how filthy the subway is. “When you get home at night, you blow out steel dust from your nose, it’s really weird and unhealthy,” Scarda said. This fine soot, created by train wheels running against the railing, is likely on all commuters, but accumulates once you spend hours underground.
Most riders also manage to tune out the overwhelming noise. “You don’t realize as a passenger how loud it is,” said Scarda, who worked in an era before commuters discovered noise-canceling headphones. “I have hearing loss because of it, but the [MTA] would never admit that. You get hearing problems from the loud decibel level of the trains.”
One major perk of working in the subway system: It’s against New York State Law to not allow state workers into their workplace, meaning MTA employees are granted free commutes on the LIRR and Metro-North, as well as trains or buses.