Roaches a pesty problem on city buses
It’s a cockroach’s paradise: a warm nook with fresh food and freedom to roam.
But to the disgust of many commuters, this roach motel is the city bus.
Roaches have taken to NYC Transit buses, and the pest problem has hit high season, according to bus operators, mechanics and union leaders. Students traveling on buses tend to leave food, and roaches are happy to gorge on scraps left there for hours.
“The buses are pretty dirty,” said one rider, William Carswell, 55, of Washington Heights, who added that he’s seen roaches on the M100 buses.
Infrequent extermination and a shortage of bus cleaners have made the fight against creepy crawlies more difficult, union leaders said.
“You name it. You find Rice Krispies to pizza to Chinese food,” said Israel Rivera, a Bronx bus driver running for union office. “You have to find a cleaner to sweep them out.”
The roaches tend to congregate in the back of buses near the engine, a warm environment for breeding, drivers said. Commuters also can inadvertently bring roaches on the buses, where the pests survive on discarded food, said Frank Betancourt, of Absolute Death exterminators in Brooklyn.
One Bronx NYC Transit driver said his bus was chronically infected with hundreds of roaches during overnight runs, when they would crawl up the dashboard.
“The buses are really, really dirty,” said Jaleesa Gomez, 21, a Bronx bus rider. “It is really disgusting.”
MTA buses are swept out each night, with each cleaner responsible for 63 vehicles per shift, Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said. Cleaners also periodically wash the floor, windows, seats and exterior of buses.
But the agency is down 100 bus maintenance staff, according to the most recent agency figures. This strains the cleaning staff and has lead to even less frequent full bus scrubdowns at two depots, union officials said.
To improve bus cleanliness, NYC Transit will hire 40 new bus cleaners shortly, Seaton said, and the agency has retained an entomologist to improve its extermination process.
“We have identified some buses that were not treated properly … and some cases where the buses were not cleaned completely,” he said.
Transit will exterminate its buses four times a year in 2010, up from every four months now, according to Seaton. Still, Betancourt thought the buses would benefit from extermination weekly.
“They like sugar, they like salt, they like everything,” Betancourt said. The buses are “a perfect environment for them.”Courtney Crowder contributed to this story.
German cockroach at-a-glance:
— Been in existence for 350 million years
- Believed to have arrived in North America on European trading ships during the colonial period
- Are brown and about half an inch in length
- Are attracted to heat and emerge at night
- Are scavengers that eat human food
(Compiled by amNY)