Home MTA Absurdity Beware the bedbug-infested subway benches

Beware the bedbug-infested subway benches

by Benjamin Kabak

The butterflies are fleeing the bed bugs. (Photo by flickr user NewYork808)

While we’re know that the new subway fares aren’t deterring riders, the higher cost of a MetroCard swipe hasn’t stopped bedbugs from hanging out in the subways either.

According to a typical sensationalistic piece in the New York Post, bedbugs are taking over benches in the subways. Run for the hills!

Patrick Gallahue, John Mazor and Sylvia Harvey — how did it take three people to write a 143-word article? — write:

At a recent Department of Housing, Preservation and Development forum on the subject, a city bedbug educator admitted to seeing the pests on benches in subway stations – in one case, catching a ride on an unsuspecting straphanger’s caboose at Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, according to people at the meeting.

The official, identified as Edward Brownbear, also reported seeing the bugs on wooden benches at the Union Square and Fordham Road stations in Manhattan and The Bronx, respectively.

Sharis Lugo, 20, of Brooklyn leaped off a bench at the Union Square station when she heard the news, saying, “Ewww! That’s nasty . . . They’ve got to take these benches out of here!”

The bedbug news first broke a few days ago in this post on the bedbug meeting on Miss Heather’s New York Shitty blog, and now that the reputable Post and Yours Truly are picking up on the story, it’s bound to keep spreading.

Stainless steel benches would be so much more hygienic for so many reasons. Maybe this disturbing and disgusting news will be just what the MTA needs to get the ball rolling on replacement benches.

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15 comments

Gary May 8, 2008 - 12:10 pm

Next thing you know those bedbugs will be running naked through the tunnels, crack pipe in hand!

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dan May 8, 2008 - 1:02 pm

Wouldn’t it be easy enough to just put metal benches in there instead of wooden ones?

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Dave April 15, 2009 - 8:51 am

Metal benches won’t stop them. They’ve been found in all sorts of hiding places in homes, not just the mattress or boxspring.

Heat treatment (performed properly) will kill the bugs and eggs. Certain poisons will kill the bugs but not the eggs.

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Todd May 8, 2008 - 2:17 pm

Thanks Ben, now I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

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Max May 8, 2008 - 2:35 pm

Eesh, I’ve always thought those wooden benches were nasty. Metal please!

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Rob May 9, 2008 - 12:57 pm

the dc metro has granite benches. not too comfortable but super-clean..no where for the bugs to go!

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-T May 9, 2008 - 10:19 pm

Okay never sitting on those ever again. Thanks for sharing that gross but necessary story.

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Charles May 11, 2008 - 11:20 pm

Metal is better than wood, but not by much. Next thing you’ll know, over the years the rainwater will rust these benches and wackos will be chipping out of these bences, metal is more convenient for graffiti painters,and it is harder to clean than wood. I don’t know, though. We live in a crazy city.

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » And now it’s gone: the MTA E-ZPass perk May 29, 2008 - 2:42 pm

[…] I guess the MTA wasn’t so willing to fight to the death for the right to E-ZPass. Now we can go back to worrying about important issues like bedbugs in the subways. […]

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maxtm » Visiting the new South Ferry May 28, 2009 - 4:33 pm

[…] glad the MTA is moving on from its kind of gross wooden benches, but the new metal ones are so angled so much you have to brace yourself to sit on […]

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How we sometime sit and often wait for the subway :: Second Ave. Sagas March 24, 2010 - 12:25 am

[…] spills and food stains, with gum and other assorted items left behind and even, at one point, with bedbugs. Used by the homeless for sleeping, the six-seaters — some with backs, some without — are […]

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Iconic wooden subway benches on the way out? :: Second Ave. Sagas September 2, 2010 - 12:38 pm

[…] New York City Transit’s wooden benches are an iconic part of the subway experience. Found in most underground stations, these benches are designed with raised arm rests to discourage people from living on them, but the wood can grow disgusting as gum, food, beverages and various unknown substances are rubbed into the grain, leaving them sticky and grimy. Some have been reported to carry bed bugs. […]

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The bugs that take over when subway trash piles up :: Second Ave. Sagas November 18, 2010 - 1:24 am

[…] we’ve heard about bed bugs taking over the subway. In early 2008, a few intrepid reporters spotted infestations in various wooden subway benches, but the MTA has not, by and large, made a public stink about it. […]

Reply
Building a better subway bench :: Second Ave. Sagas March 8, 2011 - 1:08 am

[…] respite while the subway comes — sneak their way into a news story. Sometimes, we hear about bedbugs in the wood; sometimes, we hear about plans to do away with the unhygienic wood. Still, the wood lingers, […]

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News Roundup: Bed bugs, track detection :: Second Ave. Sagas August 13, 2014 - 12:25 am

[…] in the subway. The last one, in fact, dates from the height of the bed bug infestation in 2008 when wooden subway benches seemed to provide a safe haven for the cimicid insects. The problem came roaring back into the […]

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