Concerned by sightings of bedbugs on the N, Q and 6 train lines, Councilmember Mark Treyger and Assemblymember Bill Colton are proposing state legislation, as well as a City Council resolution in support, that would require the MTA to notify the public when such situations occur.
The key, they contend, is immediate attention, given the potential health risks, transportation delays and economic hardships passengers can face from bedbug infestations. “We want them to know we are not taking this lightly,” Treyger said.
Currently, the MTA does not have a formal policy for informing the public about such incidents. “They have announced they are bringing in experts,” Treyger noted. “They can bring in all the experts they want, but they still must notify the public.”
“The public has a right to know if there is a confirmed detection of bedbugs,” Colton added, stressing, “The families of riders and transit workers must be given the opportunity to take protective measures to minimize the chance of bedbug infestation being transported to their homes and places of work.” Passengers should not have to fear riding the trains, the pair of legislators contends.
This situation was first brought to light after a train conductor received medical attention on Monday, August 25, as a result of being bitten by bedbugs. Subsequently, there were over a dozen additional confirmations of bedbugs being found on trains and buses, and in stations, according to the legislators.
“We’ve heard horror stories from people who have had to replace bedding, furniture and clothes,” Treyger said. “The MTA must also consider the economic consequences of bedbug infestations in a home, especially for working New Yorkers who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars in fumigation or cleaning bills. The MTA can easily inform the public in much the same manner it does for service delays, and we deserve to know exactly what steps it is taking to respond to bedbug infestations. They need to act swiftly.”
Contacted for comment, Judie Glave an MTA spokesperson reports, “The MTA is securing the services of a recognized expert to examine our management plan and ensure we are taking all possible steps to ensure the comfort and safety of our employees and customers.
“Whenever the MTA receives a report of a bedbug sighting, we follow all established protocols by immediately taking the train out of service, inspecting it for any signs of bedbugs and fully treating the train car.” Glave went on. “More than 5.8 million people ride 8,000 subway trains on an average weekday, but the MTA has found no bedbug infestations on any trains, and has found and treated bedbugs on a total of 16 subway cars since the beginning of the year.”