January 9, 2012
By Neal Tepel
Local politicians frustrated over constituents’ complaints about rats on the subways gave the MTA an earful outside the 181st Street IRT stop Thursday night. As rush hour crowds streamed out of the station, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez talked about using the subway for 50 years and being angry about proliferating rats for at least as long. State Senator Bill Perkins handed out a 20-page “Report on Rats in the Subway,” which revealed that 80% of riders surveyed described the rat problem as “severe or an emergency situation.”
TWU Local 100 Station Department officers handed out flyers and got petition signatures from riders along with volunteers from WEACT for Environmental Justice, a local advocacy group. The Union lent its 12-foot inflatable rat to the effort, which had dozens of passersby snapping pictures and taking videos with cellphones.
Local 100’s “rat free subways” campaign (www.ratfreesubways.com) is gathering petition signatures on line, as well. The Union says that the fightback against dirty station conditions has already resulted in a new MTA budget allocation of $1.6 million for additional refuse removal trains. Local 100 wants to see more Cleaners hired, more eradication efforts, “hardening” of refuse rooms against rat invasion, and more trash cans in stations along with more pickups.