Feb
09

As food ban moves forward, TWU subway rat contest showcases rodents

By

As part of their effort to draw attention to the fact that subway rats are really gross — a fact I did not realize needed attention drawn to it — the TWU has recently hosted a subway rat photography contest, and yesterday, they crowned a winner. The grossest rat in the subway dates back from 2008, and it’s really gross. If you want to see what Michael Spivack saw at the 7th Avenue station along 53rd St., click here. The entire gallery is equally disgusting.

Spivack, who has won himself a free monthly MetroCard for spotting this grotesque rodent, said the creature was still living when he snapped the photo. “I was waiting for the D train when I saw something on the platform,” he said to The Daily News. “The thing wasn’t moving but it was alive. I got as close as I dared to get.”

While the TWU’s contest brings visual attention to the rat infestation in the subway system, Albany is slowly attempting to do something to address the problem. The bill to ban food underground moved out of transportation committee by a 16-3 vote although nine of the ayes came with reservations. The bill now sits with the State Senate Finance Committee.



Categories : Asides, MTA Politics, TWU

20 Responses to “As food ban moves forward, TWU subway rat contest showcases rodents”

  1. Eric says:

    I don’t get all the handwringing over rats in the subway. Sure, they’re not pleasant, but neither are many things about the subway.

    Plus, that rat appears to be sick. Do we really want to say that a sick animal is “gross”?

  2. SEAN says:

    The bill to ban food underground moved out of transportation committee by a 16-3 vote although nine of the ayes came with reservations.
    Reservations? Who are these board members who think you need reservations to eat in the subway. This isn’t I E hosting a dinner party durring rush-hour. LOL

  3. TP says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that it was from 7th Ave/53rd St on the D platform. That’s where I’ve seen piles of trash bags on the platform swarming with rats late at night many times. Totally disgusting.

    I wonder, do they use this station as a trash transfer point because it has the D/E cross-platform transfer? Or is this station just neglected ’cause it’s an overlooked dead zone at night?

  4. nyland8 says:

    Any reduction of the rat population in the subways by outlawing eating would be a dubious achievement. Up at my station, 145th & Broadway, the street grates are open from the median above, right down to the center tracks. Should we outlaw eating in the streets?

    While sitting in Washington Square Park this summer, listening to music after sunset, I had no less than 6 well-fed rats scurry past my bench, in the same direction, at roughly 2-3 minute intervals. I had inadvertently chosen to sit in what was an evening migration pattern. Does anyone believe that the “solution” to this “problem” is to outlaw food in the park?

    Similarly, this past August,I had to spend a month working at the North River Water Pollution Control Plant on the Hudson. While looking down from the northern wall one Monday morning, I watched what appeared to be an entire colony of rats scurrying around the rocks at the riverside, with occasional forays inland to raid the garbage pails and divest them of the weekend’s barbecue spoils. Picnicking is the stock and trade of this waterfront greenway during the Summer months. Is the “solution” to this rat “problem” outlawing food consumption in this park, too?

    Is there something more “gross” about watching a rat ply the rails while we wait for our train, than there is about having them scurry almost between our legs as we sit on a park bench? In the train stations, they’re rarely even at the same elevation as the commuters.

    No … the only function this new law will serve will be the pretexts of the police to harass those they’ve profiled.

    Officer Krupkey: “Your Honor, it was then that I witnessed the suspect Mahmoud brandishing a falafel!”

    Everyone knows that the “problem” is not people eating in the subways. The “problem” is litter in the subways … and we already have laws against that. Laws, in fact, that are already not adequately enforced.

    If rats in the subways don’t offer sufficient entertainment to the commuting public while waiting for the next overcrowded train, then the reasonable approach to population reduction would be: – DOUBLE the number of trash receptacles, assure they are emptied frequently enough, campaign against “rat feeding” (littering) with more signage and public announcements, both on the trains and at the stations, and DOUBLE the enforcement of the already existing littering laws.

    Littering is function of public awareness – consciousness raising. If you don’t want people feeding the animals, then you have to remind them, “DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS!” … and teach them why it’s a bad thing to do … and enforce THAT law!

    But for Ganesh’s sake, don’t make commuters criminals because they need to pound down some pemican to keep from passing out.

    Albany should have better sense than that.

    • The Cobalt Devil says:

      “Should we outlaw eating in the streets?”

      No, but if people on 145th Street weren’t such pigs and actually threw their garbage into pails instead of on the street, there would be less food for the rats to eat.

      Why is it that Metro-North, NJ Transit, LIRR, PATH, Amtrak and the Staten Island Railway don’t have any major rat problem, but the NYC subway does? All these lines travel within NYC borders, and most of them do so underground, yet there are hardly any rats to speak of. It’s the slobs who ride the NYC subway and feel it’s their constitutional right to eat spaghetti meals and throw garbage underneath the seats when they’re finished that make the rat population so high.

      My landlord asks me why I don’t let the exterminator in every month, and I tell him I don’t need an exterminator because I keep my apt clean. There are no roaches because I don’t leave food and dirty dishes laying around. The same applies for the NYC subway: no food = no rats.

      • Nyland8 says:

        “No, but if people on 145th Street weren’t such pigs and actually threw their garbage into pails instead of on the street, there would be less food for the rats to eat”

        Thanks . . . For making my point for me. It isn’t the food that’s the problem, it’s where the food is placed.
        And thanks for undertaking such a comprehensive study about which train systems rats prefer. I’ve seen one on the MetroNorth tracks at GCT as recently as just a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve seen one on the PATH tracks at 9th Street just last week, but I’m sure my study of the subject is not as in depth as yours, and I don’t claim any bona fides on the subject of subway rats – as I suspect you do.

        http://articles.nydailynews.co.....department

  5. mighty_mouse says:

    why do i get the feeling that the TWU is doing this to justify the “need” for inflated staffing levels..

    • Andrew says:

      That’s exactly why the TWU is doing this.

      • nycpat says:

        Yeah, because we all know there are way too many cleaners and they run way more garbage trains than are needed?

        • R. Graham says:

          They do run way more garbage trains than what “should” be needed. I will keep saying it all the time. The MTA is not in the business of collecting and disposing of trash. They are in the business of transporting you. Take your trash out of the system and let the trash experts handle it.

          When I want my trash picked up I go to the Sanitation boys who handle that very well. When I want to get to work I either take a cab a bus or a train where the MTA specializes in the latter two. It boggles my mind to think about how service has to be disturbed late at night to accommodate a trash collection train to stop at each station. Take my line as an example “Lexington”. First of all service is still too frequent at night on the Lex and that still can’t keep the cars from being crowded. Then you have the trash collection train slowing service and crossing switch and reversing back to get out of the way on one side while creating a log jam on the other. Combine all the time you have switching side and reversing and you have accurately calculated the time wasted not collecting garbage. 24 hour systems are not meant to allowed waste being disposed of in the system.

          • Nyland8 says:

            So you are proposing . . .what? That everyone who carries a newspaper into the system be criminalized? That people who take the train to Whole Foods whose bag breaks open should be forced to sweep and mop the platform, lest they be summoned to court?

            On the half dozen subway lines that I seem to frequent the most, AM New York is, by far, the single most commonly seen piece of trash on the platforms. Shall we make handing out free newspapers a criminal offense?

            No . . . I think that might be encroaching on First Amendment issues.

            The sanitation boys don’t scrape your plates and sweep your livingroom. You do.

            It IS the MTA’s job to clean its own house. Creating one more unenforcible law won’t absolve them of that responsibility.

            • Bolwerk says:

              No, he’s clearly saying

              Take your trash out of the system and let the trash experts handle it.

              Or, take responsibility for your own waste. What you bring into the subway should come out of you, whether it’s on its way to your colon or in your hands ready to be thrown away at the nearest convenient trash receptacle.

              Really seems reasonable to me.

        • Bolwerk says:

          We know there are lots of people sitting in booths who are…not cleaning.

  6. Mark Pest says:

    This ban makes sense because people do drop food accidentally or carelessly which is an open invitation for rats to feed–and breed. And before a maintenance person can clean the mess, a rat may have gotten to the food first, or small traces of food are left to feed on.

    And people should not be apathetic about this rat problem because they can be a source of diseases which can be fatal.

    • nyland8 says:

      Should bringing ones grocery shopping into the subway be outlawed – “because people do drop food accidentally or carelessly” ?? I can imagine the Fairway Market, Trader Joe’s, et al having some serious and valid objections to making so many of their patrons criminals … not to mention 10,000 other places that sell take-out food that folks bring home via the subways 24/7.

      Do you think our rat population is being sustained by accidents and carelessness? Or are their ranks more likely swelled by inadequate handling of refuse, ignorance, apathy, littering, and lack of enforcement of existing littering laws?

      The fact that they might prefer fruit and nuts notwithstanding, you know that rats can and do eat paper … don’t you?

      • To be clear, the bill under consideration bans the consumption of food on the subway. You will still be allowed to carry groceries or other food items as long as you’re not also eating them at the same time.

        • nyland8 says:

          Well … given that I’ve yet to see a rat jump up and take a bite out of anyone’s sandwich, my last three questions still apply … so I’ll ask you, Benjamin.

          “Do you think our rat population is being sustained by accidents and carelessness? Or are their ranks more likely swelled by inadequate handling of refuse, ignorance, apathy, littering, and lack of enforcement of existing littering laws?

          The fact that they might prefer fruit and nuts notwithstanding, you know that rats can and do eat paper … don’t you?”

          If the object of the bill is to appease riders who simply can’t stand to see people eating inside the turnstiles, then I suspect it might enjoy some measure of success. Bully for them.

          But if the object of the proposed legislation is to rid the subway system of rats, then it has already failed … because it fails to address all the other sources of rat food I’ve cited above … and it will have zero impact on the fact that every station will still have be cleaned, and to endure the visits from the garbage train.

          So once again, it is littering that is the issue – and we already have an under-enforced law dealing with that.

          • R. Graham says:

            I think the bill should pass and the MTA should follow the implementation of the policy with the removal of trash containers.

            And don’t worry about that paper problem. Tablets are going to eliminate that one day. Or when flexible electronic paper finally goes main stream people can subscribe to a paper that will automatically update itself on the screen daily or hourly. Minority Report style and I’m dead serious.

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