Rats are taking over the city’s subways and the MTA isn’t doing enough to stop it, transit workers said Wednesday.
Transport Workers Union members gathered outside the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer station Wednesday, chanting “Rats ride for free, you gotta pay,” and asking straphangers to sign a petition supporting the union’s suggestions for ways the transit agency can keep stations cleaner and eradicate the system of the pesky rodents.
“People have a right not to be terrorized by biological terrorism and that’s what these rats are,” union vice president Maurice Jenkins said, suggesting the MTA use more trash cans, pick up garbage more frequently, put tight-fitting lids on trash storage bins and patch up holes throughout the transit system where rats slip through.
J line conductor Scott Harris predicted there may be as many as 20 million rats throughout the city’s 468 subway stations.
“For every rider, there’s probably about three or four rats — minimum,” Harris, 40, said, as he collected signatures for the union’s petition. “There’s not a station where there aren’t rats.”
Riders at the Jamaica station said although rodents aren’t new to the subway system, they are becoming more visible. “Especially when you get to a station with the big old Dumpsters in it,” said Angelique Jones, a barista from Jamaica. “You see them jumping on and off the garbage. It’s nasty.”
Jones, 21, recalled a close encounter with one just last week, when a rat ran out from underneath a bench she was sitting on as she waited for an E train at 5th Ave.
Earlier this month, amNewYork reported that a rodent took a bite out of a woman’s foot as she sat on a bench at the Chambers Street/Brooklyn Bridge J station.
The health department said although rat encounters may frighten some, the risks of health concerns are rare.
The MTA did not comment as of press time.
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja