A bedbug sighting inside a Queens subway control tower ravaged evening commutes on Wednesday, as human operators were forced to flee with their delicious blood out of the underground facility.
According to the MTA, the management team was notified of a possible infestation inside the Forest Hills-71st Avenue Continental Master Control Tower at around 4:30 p.m. The tower was subsequently fumigated, leading to an evacuation that snarled service throughout much of the Queens Boulevard line.
"Service on the E-F-M-R Queens Boulevard line was impacted during this period as M and R trains had to be taken farther to turn around and some M and trains were re-routed," NYC Transit President Andy Byford said in a statement. "We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers as we worked to address the issue and ensure the safety of our employees."
The workers were permitted to return to the tower at around 7:30 p.m., and full service was restored about an hour later. Queens commutes were afflicted by several other issues this morning—none of them parasite-related, as far as we know.
Tramell Thompson, an MTA conductor and union activist, said bedbugs were a "common" feature of transit workers' facilities (and subways themselves, though we try not to think about that). Last September, reports of a bedbug "epidemic" at a Bronx depot forced the MTA to remove several buses from service. The agency later claimed this was a false alarm, though some employees remain unconvinced.
“The conditions that us MTA workers work and eat in, especially in subways are very decrepit and not well kept," Thompson told Gothamist. "The majority of these MTA Chiefs don’t care because they don’t work under the same conditions or hazards as us."
"I’m quite sure if a bed bug was found in [MTA CEO Pat] Foye's office that floor would be shut down for a week," he added.