New York City subway systems are being overrun by rats and, according to transit workers, MTA budget and staff cutbacks are to blame. Workers also insist the rodents pose a health risk to everyone that uses the underground transport network.
"Cutbacks mean the rats are back!" members of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 chanted during a rally in front of the Parsons-Archer subway center in Jamaica, Queens – which has one of the largest rodent infestations.
TWU Local 100, the subway workers' union, is urging commuters to sign an online petition in support of its campaign, "New Yorkers Deserve a Rat-Fee Subway."
"We have a huge rat problem," TWU vice president Kevin Harrington told the NY Daily News.
Subway passengers are seeing an increased number of rodents. One source told the paper that platforms for the 4,5, and 6 trains are a complete "rat fest."
One woman, while waiting for a downtown train, was reportedly bitten by a rat earlier this month. The rodent drew blood when it chomped down on her foot.
"I've heard of rats running over people's feet," a transit worker told the Daily News, referring to the 4, 5, and 6 platforms. "But I've never heard of anyone actually bit."
Union members say a lack of workers needed to collect trash is a part of the problem.
Normally trash was picked up "every couple of days, [but] now it's four or five days before they pick up the garbage, and the rats just basically call that home," stated Paul Flores, who has been a station agent for 12 years, NBC reported.
According to the MTA, most of the terminated cleaning jobs did not involve the stations, but rather the subway cars.
"We are working with the city in an effort to find more effective ways of addressing the rodent problem," the MTA said in a statement.