When bed bugs are found on Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains or buses, consumers should be notified, say New York City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) and State Assemblyman Bill Colton (D), according to the Daily News.
The Daily News notes that legislation Colton and Treyger are drafting will require consumers to be notified within 24 hours when bed bugs are found on buses and trains, and will also call for the MTA to let consumers know how the problem is being addressed in each instance.
A lot of people on the subway have been seeing something small and brown and saying something lately.
A brief recap: bed bugs were found on the N and 5 lines earlier in early August, and then later on the 4 by a consumer, with the ID confirmed by entomologist Gil Bloom in the Daily News (though the insect’s origins can’t be verified; see update below), and on the N, Q and the 6 this week.•• According to NBC News, as of Wednesday, at least five trains had been pulled out of service due to bed bugs this month.
The Transit Workers’ Union is expressing a lot of concern about its members. A conductor claims to have been bitten Monday on the N train, according to this Daily News article. The Daily News also reported in mid-August that at least one cleaner (who cleans N and Q trains) and one conductor have discovered bed bugs at home during this same period; the cleaner asked the MTA for assistance with treatment, as she might have brought bed bugs home from work, but so far they are refusing to help.
I am all for people being notified of bed bugs being found in public places, and here’s why: the more we expose the presence of bed bugs, the more people will realize how prevalent this problem is.
Maybe we can get people to take time to learn the signs of bed bugs, and what bed bugs look like, so they can check their seats before sitting down in public places, and so they can learn to detect the signs if they ever appear at home or work. More awareness that bed bugs just “happen” and are not some kind of punishment for a lack of cleanliness can only help bring the issue more into the open.
More people talking about bed bugs means more people knowing more about bed bugs and therefore quite possibly fewer people getting bed bugs.
The downside of this sort of legislation is that some people will panic, as some no doubt already are. I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh no! Now bed bugs are on the subway too!”
Not exactly– there were surely bed bugs in the subway at least going back several years. You just weren’t aware of it. Being more aware does not necessarily equal being more at risk.
Another concern is that some folks already think bed bugs are “everywhere” — which also isn’t true. They can be almost anywhere, but they are far from everywhere. Even if there are some bed bugs on some subway trains, that does not mean they are all over any subway train, let alone all over a subway line. For example, in the case of the N, the problem seemed to be concentrated largely around conductor’s seats and employee locker rooms.
We do need to be vigilant and learn what bed bugs look like, and record* and report sightings. The NYC security mantra “If you see something, say something” doesn’t just apply to unattended parcels. And the MTA does need to take this problem seriously and to train employees to look for bed bugs and their signs before someone complains about them being present.
But please don’t panic, and don’t top riding the subway and buses.
*Yes, I said “record” sightings– if you see what you think is a bed bug in public, by all means take a photo! And then report it.
Update (8/28): Gil Bloom has commented below to clarify that while he has identified the insect found on the 4 as a bed bug, he can’t verify where it came from. Thanks, Mr. Bloom!