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Swarming beneath the surface of the great US metropolis are some 28 million – and counting – rats, who many say have become increasingly aggressive as they roam throughout the NYC subway system. NBC New York reports that the rat epidemic is full blown at scores of stations, threatening the safety of not just the subway workers, but the riders as well.
Many New Yorkers blame the city’s budget cuts, which resulted in less pest control workers and the reduction of trash removal. Trash collection occurred “every couple of days,” says 12 year veteran subway station agent Paul Flores. “Now it’s four or five days before they pick up the garbage, and the rats just basically call that home.” Flores refers to revolting state of many of the subway network’ s refuse rooms where dumpsters are stored. “It’s the same thing all over,” Flores adds. “Less trash pickups, the cans fill to the top and rats just eat off that.”
And while the subways are place of work for many, and a daily thoroughfare for even more, they are the permanent residences of these emboldened vermin. Refuse rooms, in particular are prime real estate for NYC rats. To illustrate the vile situation, health dept research scientist Robert Corrigan revealed that upwards of 12 rats can live in a single cinder block – and in each and every cinder block – which means up to 150 rats can live within the walls of just one refuse room.
With stats like that, it’s no surprise rat sightings are a regular occurrence for subway dwellers. It’s also a concern for the unfortunate subway workers whose break rooms sit next to the garbage quarters.
“I’ve seen them on the platform,” Janet Siovasoto, told NBC NY as she waited for her train at 53rd and Broadway. “A few mornings this week, I stood right there and watched the rats go inside the trash room. It’s really disgusting and they need to do something about it.”
Concerned citizens have publicized amateur documentation of the vermin invasion underground (as seen above) including a rat that crawled up a sleeping man’s leg and another that scurried across a subway car, causing mayhem amongst riders. Countless riders claimed it’s commonplace to see rats crawling under subway seats.
As the disease-ridden pests continue to proliferate, city officials and transit workers are at odds with reaching a timely solution. Prepared to formally address their concerns to the MTA, the subway workers union demonstrated outside of the Jamaica Central Terminal on Wednesday as part of their New Yorkers Deserve a Rat-Free Subway campaign encouraging riders to sign their online petition which asks, “If You Smell Something, Sign Something.”
The MTA appears less emphatic, claiming that any phased-out cleaning jobs involved subway cars, not stations. In an official statement, the MTA asserted, “We are working with the city in an effort to find more effective ways of addressing the rodent problem,” which will allegedly include upping the ante on their baiting efforts. In a city where rats already outnumber human beings by 3 to 1, those measures represent just the tip of the iceberg.