Which would you rather face on subway platform: rats or a gaggle of loud-talking teenagers?
Yesterday NY Daily News reported that in the wake of the New York MTA’s recent cutbacks, subway workers and riders are complaining that the rat population in the city’s subway has “exploded.”
Members of the Transport Workers Union protested at rally against the vermin in Jamaica, Queens, chanting “cutbacks mean the rats are back!” The MTA’s recent budget cuts have eliminated 254 cleaning positions for subway cars, tracks, and platforms.
The Daily News writes, “While riders sometimes encounter rodents on platforms, subway workers have to contend with the critters in greater numbers in utility rooms, track beds, locker rooms and lunch rooms.” And even MTA spokesman Charles Seaton acknowledged the problem in Jamaica, saying, “This has proven to be a problem location and even following some of the suggestions offered by the TWU has failed to yield positive results.”
At the same time, the New York Times reported yesterday that “cell phone service is coming to the subway” next week. For now, the service is being rolled out as a pilot program in four stations in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and service will only be available on platforms, not in tunnels, and only on AT&T and T-Mobile. (Verizon customers will be out of luck underground, but can take comfort in the fact that their phones actually work above ground, unlike AT&T customers.)
As the Times notes, “It may be that no technological advancement in New York transportation history has been so equally desired and dreaded.” Very true. The city has long vexed riders with the curse of tardiness, setting business meetings and first dates alike off on a sour note. Being able to call or text when the train is taking forever would be a boon—but at the obvious price of exposing riders to strangers’ terrible phone etiquette.
It seems the MTA has some tough budget decisions to make these days. The “wired underground” project, as it’s being called, comes in tandem with cuts that could be letting the rat population flourish.
You have to ask: which would you rather confront on the subway, rats or a gaggle of teenagers all squawking into their cell phones at the same time? It’s a tough question for anyone to answer. But while you ponder, let’s take the opportunity to relive an epic moment in NYC subway rats: