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Presence of Bedbugs in Subway Scares Riders, Transit Workers

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Bedbugs sometimes take the subway, too, and their presence is putting a scare into riders, transit workers and politicians. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

All aboard. Just not the bedbugs.

Sixteen subway cars on eight trains have been treated for bedbugs in recent weeks, and riders and transit workers are getting creeped out.

"I try to avoid taking the N train, if possible," said one rider. "I take the D or I can take the F since I found out about the bedbugs because I don't want none of that coming into my house."

The bulk of the bedbug sightings have taken place on the N, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority taking those trains out of service once the presence of the nasty critters is confirmed.

However, the Transport Workers Union said that's not enough and wants the entire fleet fumigated before school starts.

"The TA is not being proactive. They're just dealing with it as the situation pops up," said Joe Costales of TWU Local 100. "We're asking them to address this proactively so that we can stop the scenario from spreading."

A pair of Brooklyn elected officials said they're pushing legislation that will order transit officials to announce any bedbug infestation within 24 hours.

Any time there's a confirmed bedbug sighting on any train, the politicians think the MTA should use Twitter or its website to let riders know in the same way they would about any service problems in the system.

"This is not something that some bureaucratic agency should be allowed to make a decision as to whether or not it's important enough to notify the public," said Assemblyman William Colton of Brooklyn.

"This is a very serious public health issue, but also an economic issue that the MTA cannot disregard," said City Councilman Mark Treyger of Brooklyn.

The agency said any trains with bedbugs are immediately taken out of service and treated, but it also pointed out that it runs 8,000 trains daily.

"We carry 5.8 million customers per day. So one bedbug is too many, but this is not a big problem at the MTA, despite what you might have heard," said MTA Spokesperson Adam Lisberg.

Plus, the MTA said bedbugs don't thrive on cold, hard surfaces like the seats on a train.

"I think it's more of an isolated thing with where the conductor's cushion is, you know?" said one subway rider.

It's enough of a scare, though, that riders are hoping all they catch on the train is a ride.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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