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I have frequently noticed that public transport vehicles do not have waste bins inside. Instead, those are located on the stations. This seems to be the case in all the German cities I have visited for buses, trams, subways and commuter railway (S-Bahn), like Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and others, but also for the London underground, the BART and cable car in San Francisco or the underground in Barcelona and Milan.

Why is this the case?

closed as too broad by Dirty-flow, Maître Peseur, CGCampbell, Gagravarr, Gayot Fow Jun 25 '15 at 15:51

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    How does security theatre and bomb threats sound? – JoErNanO Jun 25 '15 at 10:24
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    London has had problems with bombs placed there. Some spots are using the transparent bins now, but they are not everywhere. Tolerance has extended down to cigarette butts, and some local authorities will provide you with portable personal ash trays. But for other rubbish, you're on your own. – Gayot Fow Jun 25 '15 at 10:54
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    Public buses in Tel Aviv have small trash bins near the second door, so it's certainly not a matter of public safety. – JonathanReez Jun 25 '15 at 11:42
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    Public busses in Brazil have bins. Some public busses in the Netherlands have bins. – MastaBaba Jun 25 '15 at 13:09
  • Sorry, but for Germany I think your observation is wrong. There usually ARE bins in the subways and S-Bahn, just not always individually in each seating compartment (most likely for space reasons). Sometimes they will be rather located near the doors. – Ray Jun 25 '15 at 14:31
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At least in Germany, I don't think security is an issue. Although it actually is uncommon to find waste bins in means of transport for shorter distances, you will find waste bins in most, if not all, regional and long distance trains or inter-city buses.

I would rather assume that it is simply so tedious and/or time consuming to empty the waste bins, that none are installed. Intra-city means of transport are often quite crowded and it would be practically impossible for someone to walk through e.g. a packed subway wagon during normal operation to empty the bins. If the driver was supposed to empty the bins at the end of a line, this would take some time and cause both more personnel as well as more vehicles to be required.

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    I would have thought it's even more tedious and time consuming to pick up the trash scattered throughout the train/bus when there are no bins to deposit it in... – jpatokal Jun 25 '15 at 12:16
  • In Munich, the S-Bahn has small bins at each window (i.e. 1 bin per 4 seats). They are emptied during normal operation, close to the end of the lines. See also: tz.de/muenchen/stadt/… – user24582 Jun 25 '15 at 13:14
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    @jpatokal It's actually not a problem. Perhaps Germans are generally able to behave. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 25 '15 at 13:16
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In London, at least, it is a security issue. On 18 Feb 1991, an IRA bomb exploded in a bin in Victoria Station, killing one person and injuring 38. As the Wikipedia article on bombings during the Troubles goes on to note:

Since that time, there have been no litter bins anywhere on the station platform.

However, as The Londonist noted in 2011,

Bins Are Back On The Underground [...] A new bid to tidy up the tube has now seen a 25% increase in the number of rubbish receptacles available across the network.

It's not clear to me how a 25% increase in nothing at all is helpful, so I'm interpreting this as "bins have been very slowly making their way back onto London's public transport premises, and the rate of deployment has recently increased".

However, I suspect it'll be a while before you can rely on finding a bin on a station platform; probably best to put your rubbish in your pocket, and bin it once you get out on the street.

  • In the UK, when I was younger, bins were pretty much non-existent in staitons. Now you can find them in some, but not all stations, more often in smaller ones (bizzarley, those less likley to be selling loads of stuff). Mainline trains in the UK normally have a bin somewhere on board, but buses, trams and undergrounds trains much less often. – CMaster Jun 25 '15 at 12:36
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    The major London stations often have cleaners circulating, so on a good day the bin will come to you. I suspect the resolution of the apparent contradiction, is that Wikipedia is incorrect if it's saying that there are no bins on any station platforms in the UK, even if it's true that there are still no bins on any platform in Victoria or that specific platform where the 1991 bomb was (I don't know about Victoria in particular). So the 25% increase is in bins located elsewhere on the network (some combination of elsewhere than platforms, or elsewhere than Victoria). – Steve Jessop Jun 25 '15 at 14:50
  • Hmm, Wikipedia's cited source for that statement including "since that time...", is a NY Times article dated 1991. So it's an uncited claim, which doesn't mean it's false but does mean it might require a trip to Victoria to verify. – Steve Jessop Jun 25 '15 at 14:51
  • @SteveJessop the Londonist article makes the same claim in its first para (I only didn't quote it to avoid duplication) and it matches my personal memory (I was living in London, studying not far from Victoria, when that bomb went off, and I recall BR pulling bins across its London network in response). But I agree that the reference to the Wikpedia cite is poor. – MadHatter Jun 25 '15 at 14:54

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