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Bedbugs on a train

by Benjamin Kabak

New Yorkers are long accustomed to sharing their subway rides with all sorts of wild life. Cockroach sightings underground are, sadly, not rare, and rats scurry along train tracks searching for food. At outdoor stations, pigeons are known to amble into a train car or two in search of an errant french fry. The latest hangers-on though we could all do without.

Over the past few weeks, even though the larger epidemic was supposedly on the wane, numerous reports of bed bugs on subway trains — in particular the N line — have emerged, and in a column earlier this week, Pete Donohue of the Daily News reported at least 21 sightings in August. According to the columnist, the N train leads the way with nine sightings while the Q had three and the 6 two. Bugs were also spotted on the 3, 4, 5 and L trains and in crew rooms in Astoria, East New York and Coney Island.

As far as the extent of the problem, the MTA has worked to downplay the sightings. The agency says it has found “no bedbug infestations on any trains,” and crews inspect and fumigate train cars nearly immediately. “This is an interesting story but not a big problem,” spokesman Adam Lisberg said to the News. Still, it’s clear from rapid response times that the MTA is treating these reports very seriously, as they should.

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10 comments

SEAN September 3, 2014 - 11:01 am

The bed bug problem arose a few years ago with hotels in such cities as NYC & Los Angeles do to the number of foregn visitors & transplants.

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Elvis Delgado September 3, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Right, everyone knows that foreigners and immigrants are disease-ridden and vermin-infested. I’ll bet their grammar is substandard too; they probably say things like “do to the number” fairly often.

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SEAN September 3, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Elvis – it’s not the people, it’s what’s in their luggage. I doubt any of them are even aware of it.

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Bolwerk September 3, 2014 - 2:14 pm

Bedbugs have made a comeback everywhere over the past generation or two. Banning DDT is sometimes cited as a reason, though there was quite a lag between that ban and the present epidemic.

My old building had an infestation on the second floor in 2002. I was on the 6th floor, and never affected. I moved out in 2006 or 2007. A friend moved into that building’s second floor in 2012 and moved out this year because of bed bugs. I was wondering if it was the same infestation!

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D in Bushwick September 3, 2014 - 6:06 pm

If one apartment has bedbugs, all of them eventually will. A couple I know moved from the west coast suburbs to Astoria and found bedbugs after about 6 months even though they had mattress and box spring barriers. What is with Astoria (N train) and bedbugs?!
Diatomaceous earth was the answer – cheap and effective when used correctly.

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SEAN September 3, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Same story I know of in a White Plains building. One apartment was infested, but luckily it didn’t spread across the building.

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Bolwerk September 3, 2014 - 7:07 pm

My girlfriend is a grad student at U Penn. She moved into an infested apartment in West Philly) and we opted to store all her stuff until we are sure they’re dead. I’m hoping packing everything with Diatomaceous earth and storage in the freezing temperatures this past winter already murdered them.

Hey, let’s try that tactic with our local government!

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lop September 3, 2014 - 7:54 pm

What is with Astoria (N train) ?

Some of the riders have bed bugs in their apartments. They bring them onto the train. People freak out, so the MTA cleans the railcars. Then those same riders get back on the train, bringing a few more little buggers with them.

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John T September 3, 2014 - 9:52 pm

You have to see the “artist’s rendering” with this article.

see http://www.businessinsider.com.....nyc-2014-8

I guess if the bug passed the civil service test, then its qualified. Don’t like the passenger though.

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Lisa May 29, 2015 - 10:37 pm

The EL train in Philadelphia has bed bugs and the buses too! Of course it doesn’t help that SEPTA still uses those carpeted blue seats made of some type of FABRIC! Perfect place for bedbugs to hide until you sit your behind down then they pounce on you. Also, good luck finding a clean seat on septa that’s not filled with ‘vomit’ and ‘semen’! Yuck!
It doesn’t matter how tired I am after a long day at work I’d rather stand for the commute. For the record Septa ignores all complaints or will reply with something along the lines of ‘we do not have the resources to…’ ect

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