The MTA has removed the backs off benches at the West 4th Street station in an effort to stop homeless people and wasted commuters from sleeping on them, transit officials said Friday.
The Manhattan station is a hotspot for bench-snoozing — often by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol — so the agency yanked the back supports last month. It has already had an impact, an agency spokesman said.
The effort “has successfully led to a reduction in people sleeping in that problematic station; an improvement in employee safety and comfort; improved cleanliness; and an increase in the amount of customers using the benches as they wait for trains,” rep Shams Tarek said in a statement.
“We will always stand up for the subway riding public as we work to keep stations safe, clean and orderly,” he added, noting that the agency’s homeless task force has convinced over 2,800 people to accept social services since July.
The bench modifications were first reported by Gothamist.
Around 2,000 homeless people live in the subway system, according to a count conducted last January, though advocates suggest the number has grown since then.
Last June, The Post reported a 50 percent spike in delays caused by incidents involving homeless people.
Some commuters cheered the newly back-less benches Friday.
“The homeless population needs to be dealt with. You have to do something,” Perry Hammond, 66, said while waiting on the station’s downtown A, C and E train platform.
“I hope that’s not the whole solution, but if it keeps them from sleeping on the benches that’s fine with me,” Hammond said. “Regular people want to sit on the bench and rest their legs after a long day.”
Salvatore Palma, 49, said from the uptown D train platform: “I’m sympathetic to them but I’m sympathetic to the rest of us,” “Removing the back of a bench is a small sacrifice for a better subway platform … for everyone else.”
James Kay, a 50-year-old homeless man sitting on the same platform said he typically opts to sleep in a shelter or at a McDonald’s instead of in the transit system — but that he sympathizes with people who prefer the underground.
“The shelters are hard for some people. These some mean folks and some tough guys,” Kay told The Post. “They don’t let you sleep on the train [anymore]. You gotta sleep though. Somewhere.”