The city Tuesday confirmed what most New Yorkers knew already: There’s a rat problem in the subways.
In its first scientific look at the underground rodent situation, city health officials found that of the 58 subway tracks in lower Manhattan stations surveyed, nearly half have a troubling rat presence, typically because the beady-eyed pests are feasting on litter, officials said.
“There is a serious safety issue. People have been frightened off the platforms because of these animals,” Robert Corrigan, the city’s rat czar, said during a health department meeting.
Inspectors found that more than 100 rats can live off the garbage piling up in a station’s refuse room. The pests bed down in the bricks behind station walls, with each family occupying a different hollow cube, much “like apartments,” Corrigan said.
Other findings include:
- The trains tend to cover rat bait now placed on the tracks, making it less appealing for rats.
- Stations with the worst problem had litter piling up in refuse rooms or on the tracks.
“A week doesn’t go by that I don’t see three or four rats. It’s not like spotting a comet,” said Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign.
Funding constraints has hampered expansion of the city’s program to study and address the rat problem, but Corrigan said he was “very optimistic” that they can eventually kick out the pests. An MTA spokesman said they supported the efforts but needed to “evaluate” its costs.
The city yesterday would not say how much has already been spent on the two-year-old program or which specific stations had the worst problems.