There Are Bed Bugs On The Subway Benches. Yes, Really.

Bedbugs are usually thought of as something that only hotel guests have to worry about, but apparently New Yorkers who like to sit on benches while they wait for the subway should be concerned about the bloodsuckers as well.

The NYPost says:

At a recent Department of Housing, Preservation and Development forum on the subject, a city bedbug educator admitted to seeing the pests on benches in subway stations – in one case, catching a ride on an unsuspecting straphanger’s caboose at Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, according to people at the meeting.

The official, identified as Edward Brownbear, also reported seeing the bugs on wooden benches at the Union Square and Fordham Road stations in Manhattan and The Bronx, respectively.

Well, ew. Kind of makes you appreciate those frigid outdoor comparatively-pestilence-free Chicago L platforms. Sorta.



Edit Your Comment

  1. Orv says:

    Makes sense. I mean, homeless people sleep on those benches and they don’t exactly have the opportunity to practice good personal hygiene. I imagine homeless shelters are crawling with them too.

  2. reznicek111 says:

    Hmm…but what about the not-so-frigid seats on the buses and the L?

  3. azntg says:

    Okay, I’ll just be sure to stand up the next time I have to freeze my arse off waiting over an hour just for a goddarn boardable 7 train to show up after small incident.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    Wait…you mean most people DON’T know public transit services in major urban areas are usually pretty nasty?

    As someone who has used public transit for years, let me just say sanitary is absolutely NOT the word to describe most terminals, stations, subway cars and buses.

  5. To live in that town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough.

  6. Wormfather says:

    I catch the subway to Union Square everyday. OMG, this sucks. I hope the something I ordered yesterday turns out to be bug spray, with extra deet or whatever chemical is good for them.

  7. killarclown says:

    title should have been “protein snacks on the subway in the morning help keep you from hitting “the wall””

    maybe a little too wordy

  8. winstonthorne says:

    Hey, lay off the bedbugs – you don’t see them trying to force the doors open on a crowded 6 train at 9:00am on a Friday.

  9. Wormfather says:

    @dragonfire81: Actually, i come into manahatan from CT via metro north every morning and catch the 4, 5 or 6 to Union Square (sometimes 23rd st) and that line usually has clean looking cars, suprisingly. Late and slow, yes, filthy, rarely.

  10. zibby says:

    Hoyt-Schermerhorn figures – the A train goes through there. Not to mention the G. Double whammy.

  11. richcreamerybutter says:

    Even the McKibbin loft bedbug contingent is sick of that shithole’s landlords and has made a mass exodus to the Morgan and Montrose L stops.

  12. spinachdip says:

    @Orv: Personaly hygiene has little effect on bed bug infestation. Yeah, I can imagine shelters could be infested, but not any more than hotels or apartments.

  13. zibby says:

    @spinachdip: Pleas. Everybody knows that only the dirty kids got lice. It’s the same with bedbugs, they’re attracted to dirt.

  14. spinachdip says:

    @zibby: You forgot slutty girls. Bed bugs are a sign of promiscuity.

    BTW, a simple solution for ridding the benches of bed bugs – replace wooden benches with plastic and/or metallic, coat the legs in Vaseline.

    Also, I like that a subway rider’s called a “straphanger”, even though there are hardly any trains in the MTA with actual straps.

  15. Wormfather says:

    @zibby: Nice, you actually put perspective on that for me. Thanks.

  16. timmus says:

    If someone would bother to take a picture of these bedbugs on the subway benches it would really help the case along.

  17. womynist says:

    I have been woking with homeless individuals & families for a few years now, and bedbugs aren’t necessarily a sign that a person is dirty. Once these bugs get into a room they can infest an entire building. There’s definitely been a resurgence in the bedbug population over the last few years, and even 4 star hotels are having problems with them. What happens is they get transported in people’s luggage & clothing and thus get dropped down in another hotel, someone’s home, etc. These things are gross and they don’t only live in clothing & bedding. They will hide in walls, behind picture frames, bed frames–any place they can. They also require multiple treatments from an exterminator and are really difficult to get rid of completely. I was bitten bu one at the shelter I used to work at…the welt got huge and I knew it wasn’t a mosquito bite. Then we realized the whole place was infested. However–the issue on the subway may very well be caused by homeless persons sleeping on the benches, but it could also be from regular people who don’t know they’ve been exposed to bedbugs and are carrying them around. The homeless have enough issues already…this just aggravates the problem. Let’s give them a break for once.

  18. katieoh says:

    so not ONLY do i have to ride the G train, i can get bedbugs? ugh.

  19. rmz says:

    I was watching that A&E show about exterminators the other day and when they were cleaning out a bedbug infestation, the guy was talking about he was most definitely going to be carrying a few on his clothing, possibly spreading them to his house. They’re apparently far easier to spread than people realize, and it doesn’t have much to do with whether a place is filthy or clean, unlike many other pests.

  20. impudence says:

    EEWWWW I take the train from Hoyt Schermerhorn to Fordham road in the Bronx everyday. I am completely skeeved out now.

  21. Me. says:

    I’m more concerned with the puddles of vomit that are always next to those benches.

  22. Pennsylvanian123 says:

    Just wanted to mention that bedbugs have nothing to do with sanitary or unsanitary conditions, to my knowledge. Even the spiffiest of hotels get them and people who have pristine, eat-off-the-toilet-seat homes can wind up with begbugs. They are hitchhikers, not bacteria. Just like lice has nothing to do with how clean a kid’s hair is.

    That said, glad I don’t live in a subway town for once…

  23. pvaras says:

    @Wormfather: I’m on that same train to Wall St. The cars are nicer than the Midtown Express cars; however that does not change the fact that I spend at least 20 minutes of my day crowded in with hundreds of strangers. Every time I get the sniffles I think about my proximity to others on the subway, and think that I either got it, or will give it to, someone else between Grand Central and Wall St.

  24. jesseg says:

    oh, that’s great. i used to take the D from the fordham road station every day. and i often went to union square.

  25. xrodion says:

    that, makes sense from what you see people doing on those benches. I go to work at 1am Monday-Friday and I see some of the nastiest shit going on those benches. Whether, I seen people have sex or just taking a shit or whatever. I try to avoid them by all cost.

  26. stephenjames716 says:


  27. Lambasted says:

    @xrodion: Inserting naivete now: People take shits on subway benches?! I would have guessed a lot of things happen on those benches but I wouldn’t have put taking a dump high on the list. Damn.

    Thank god DC metro is heavily monitored. You can’t get away with chewing gum on a Metro let alone taking a dump on a bench. Now, I have smelled faint smells of urine outside the station where homeless people panhandle and perhaps sleep at night but not in the station itself where the benches are.

  28. backbroken says:

    I’m surprised bed bugs could survive living in the benches. I guess the benches are cleaner than I presumed.

  29. RhymePhile says:


    And your Metro is also carpeted, right? That just blows my mind. You’ve never experienced filth unless you’ve ridden in the NYC subway. Shit is *nothing*.

  30. celticgina says:

    We just came back from DC and were quite amused at how CLEAN the metro is. And don’t get me started about the carpeting in the cars! If you didn’t know we were tourists by our clutching metro maps, our exclamations over the metro system would have been a dead give-away. (that and our black socks and sandals, and cameras around our necks!)

  31. JollyJumjuck says:

    This is one of those “inconvenient truths” that environmentalists forget to mention when touting the value of mass transit over driving. Expect this to become a more widespread problem as gas prices increase and force more and more people to mass transit.

  32. Angryrider says:

    I’m not surprised. Bedbugs are the next level, as shit and more shit continue to pile up in the subways. If we live in the “greatest” country in the world, why the hell do we have to ride in a filthy subway?
    I remember taking a HK train, and it was pure clean.
    Sometimes I think the only solution is to flood the subway in a wave of soapy water, like in that apocalyptic movie about NYC.

  33. Orv says:

    @Angryrider: Then it’d probably just grow black toxic mold. ;)

  34. @Orv:

    I imagine homeless shelters are crawling with them too.

    They are – my wife worked at a Homeless Shelter for about a year and a half, and they had a serious bedbug problem.

  35. Orv says:

    @JollyJumjuck: Actually I doubt that will worsen the problem. The nicest, cleanest buses I ride on here in the Seattle area are the freeway express buses filled with commuters who are trying to avoid using their cars. The biggest problem I’m seeing is that the Park & Ride lots now consistently fill up early.

    I think New Yorkers actually like their mass transit system filthy. It makes them feel tough. They take a perverse pride in the hardships they endure to live there. This is also why every New Yorker is only too glad to tell you their story about getting mugged.

  36. @Angryrider:

    …like in that apocalyptic movie about NYC.

    Isn’t every apocalyptic movie about NYC?

    I’m guessing you mean I Am Legend…

  37. Lambasted says:

    @RhymePhile: @celticgina:

    DC Metro is very strict (almost to the point of being anal) about not allowing eating or drinking (and shitting) inside the station. Chewing gum is even considered an offense that can get you detained. The station and cars are heavily monitored and they will detain you and give you a ticket if they catch you. That’s how we are able to have carpet and keep it fairly clean.

    I remember a woman was detained for bottle feeding her baby because that was a form of eating/drinking. Of course people rallied in her support and I think Metro laxed the law to exclude bottle feeding a baby. But I think they may have limited it to one bottle.

  38. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @InfiniTrent: What? They turned the subway system into a giant dishwasher in “I Am Legend”? I *need* to see this movie now.

  39. spinachdip says:

    Again, the filthiness of the NY subway system (and it is a pretty filthy system) has little to do with it. It’s just that wooden benches provide a lovely nesting place for the bugs, and nothing you do to clean them, short of burning the motherfuckers, will get rid of the bugs.

    And you won’t find bed bugs in DC metro benches, not because they’re clean, but because every fucking fixture in the system is made of concrete, and bed bugs can’t nest in flat concrete.

    Seriously, why do people expect the NY subway to be clean? For one thing, most of the system was built nearly a century ago and the funding, when you consider the size of the network, is woefully inadequate. It’s really a problem when one of the city’s most vital infrastructure is managed by Albany, who hates everything about the city except the big fat tax revenue.

  40. @Diet-Orange-Soda:

    What? They turned the subway system into a giant dishwasher in “I Am Legend”? I *need* to see this movie now.

    Yeah, it was crazy – who knew Zombies hated clean dishes?

  41. @spinachdip:

    It’s just that wooden benches provide a lovely nesting place for the bugs, and nothing you do to clean them, short of burning the motherfuckers, will get rid of the bugs.

    There are some fumigation treatments that require a lot of time, and are highly poisonous to humans…but really, burning the benches would be a more reasonable strategy considering there would be no real way to shut down the subway for any length of time.

  42. ekthesy says:


    Ever seen some of the “track rabbits” inhabiting the subways? (Also known as big-ass rats).

  43. spinachdip says:

    @InfiniTrent: Yeah, I’m totally serious about just burning the benches. The fumigators you can buy at drug stores are useless with bed bugs, and half the commercial exterminators doing bedbug removal are incompetent, a rip off, or both. Surprisingly, I’ve found that $4 cans of lice spray were the most effective (I spent a good part of a year getting rid of bedbugs).

    @ekthesy: You’re talking about the Albany appointees on the MTA board, yes?

  44. Mr. Guy says:

    a little late on this? story broke on May 8.

    Still gross though. I really don’t care how bad the poisons we used to kill all the bedbugs the first time were, they couldn’t have been as bad as bedbugs themselves. Bring back DDT.

  45. dbshadow says:

    I’m telling you Meg, get out of that hellhole and get back to Illinois where we freeze them suckers every winter

  46. Empire says:

    @JollyJumjuck: Nonsense. Properly designed, cleaned and maintained mass transit is not any more problematic than any downtown office building.

  47. TechnoDestructo says:


    In Japan and Korea, they aren’t.

    All the stations I went to in DC seemed pretty clean, too (but for the most part, had few if any benches)

    What is so wrong with New York that their stations look and smell like the inside of a dumpster?

  48. XianZomby says:

    On the DC metro once I found an empty train car on an otherwise crowded train. Two others and I boarded. We found that in addition to us, the car also carried a tu*d left by a previous passenger.

    Somebody called the driver via the call box and the car was evacuated and sealed off at the next stop.

    T*rds yes, bed bugs no.

  49. maevro says:

    This is actually old news and was reported last week. I do not see anyone sitting on the benches at my stop in the morning and the evening sitters are few and far between too.

  50. Week old article = claim by that guy was already refuted by the agency he works for.

    Whether or not what he said is true, I don’t know, but it’s old news…

  51. Chris Walters says:

    @XianZomby: First thing you learn in any subway city: ALWAYS AVOID the empty or near-empty car. Nothing good is in there.

  52. trujunglist says:

    Gross. I never sat down on the L because it looked disgusting. Now I’m really glad I didn’t.

  53. Lambasted says:

    Given how vital the subway system is to NYC, I am really shocked that very little has been done to update it. Outside of funding the police department, the subway should be the next most funded service in NY. I’m curious, has a mayor ever run on a platform that included subway reform?

  54. spinachdip says:

    @Lambasted: Well, the city doesn’t run the subway. If I’m not mistaken, the mayor can nominate four of MTA’s eight boardmembers (and the governor selects the other four), but they are subject to senate approval. More importantly, the funding comes from the State, not the City. There’s very little the mayor can do to improve the subway system.

  55. Parting says:

    Eeeewww. I guess I’m not going to visit New York subway, after all.

    Guys, did anyone see subway in Moscow? It’s much more crowded. However, somehow it’s much more cleaner…

    Also, subway in Montreal (Canada) is much more cleaner, even thou it haven’t been updated since 1970.

  56. biskits says:

    Also, when Mayor Bloomberg tried to set up congestion pricing (with the funds earmarked to expand and modernize the subways), Albany killed the idea immediately. The state govt enjoys getting their mitts on MTA money, but is far less enthusiastic about giving it back.

    As for bedbugs: I hope to God I never get an infestation, after seeing how bonkers a friend of mine became trying to rid her apartment of the little buggers. They’re tenacious! It took months to wipe them out completely, and she had painful-looking welts on her body from the things. I know people who’ve decorated their apartments with furniture they’ve found in the street, but I’d certainly think twice before doing it now.

  57. dragonfire81 says:

    My comment was based only on North American urban centers, not international.

  58. Sasquatch says:

    I expect a report like this from my local FOX affiliate, but I expect better from the Consumerist.

  59. zgori says:

    MTA is horribly underfunded by the state and the feds. Management is inept. Unions quite effectively block most work from getting done and drive up the costs of any improvements or expansions to ridiculous levels (it’s not uncommon for a simple station rehab to cost in the hundreds of millions). And many of the riders are total slobs who throw their nasty food trash on the floor rather than in the trashcans positioned about every ten feet. A small minority also deposit bodily fluids.

    Despite all this, you still get a clean, comfortable, reasonably swift ride about 98 percent of the time. It takes you anywhere in the city and only costs $1.80.

    So let’s keep things in perspective.

  60. planetdaddy says:

    The public transportation systems in DFW area North Texas are awesome. I ride all the time. Have seen no shit or bugs.

  61. lovelygirl says:

    eewww… I rarely sit on those but it’s still gross. And the people who sit on those benches are also the people that sit in restaurants and movie theaters… ick!