Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Bill Colton are introducing a bill that would mandate the MTA to use the methods already in place for delays and service issues to warn the public about bed bug findings, as well as to let riders know what measures are being taken to address the issue.
“This is not something that some bureaucratic agency should be allowed to make a decision as to whether or not it’s important enough to notify the public,” Colton said. “The public has a right to know.”
Standing outside of the N train, where bed bugs were discovered just last month, Treyger explained that bed bugs are not only a health concern, but an economic concern as well.
Riders who bring bed bugs back to their homes can spend thousands on fumigation and the replacement of any fabric in their homes, where bed bugs like to hide.
“The working-class families ride the subways and the buses,” Treyger said. “They can’t afford to bring bed bugs back into their homes and replace their furniture, and their bedding and their clothing every single time they ride a train. That’s unacceptable.”
Treyger said that he has heard “horror stories” of people trying to rid their home of bed bugs.
One horror story came from a friend of 47th District Leader Nancy Tong. Tong attended the press conference to share her friend’s story and the concerns of the community at large.
“She threw away everything,” Tong said of the friend who brought home the bugs. “She got bites on her and then her bedding had to be thrown out, her wardrobe had to be thrown out, her carpeting, everything. But a lot of working families don’t have that kind of money to replace everything.”
The bill and resolution by Colton and Treyger respectively would not require the MTA to check each rider, but it would hold the agency accountable for checking their trains and buses and letting riders know of any findings.
Treyger explained that this would open up the MTA to “financial liability” if they were to find bugs and not report them.
Both Treyger and Colton expressed frustration with the MTA’s lack of a response to the issue, claiming that the transit authorities do not really understand the damage that bed bugs cause.
“All too often the MTA is not responsive,” Colton said. “All too often their statements, their judgments do not really understand the issues that affect real families.”