NEW YORK -- MTA took at least half a dozen New York City buses out of service because of concerns about bed bugs.
The buses are in isolation, on the outskirts of the Kingsbridge Bus Depot. They are out of service and quarantined after drivers say bed bugs were believed to be crawling in the seats of at least six buses in the past three weeks.
"Imagine sitting home, not knowing about it, and the next thing you know you have bed bugs in your apartment, on your child and you're seeing marks on your child, and you're thinking it's coming from somewhere else, and it's coming from the city buses," said Inwood resident Donald Sheehan.
It was not immediately clear which routes were affected, but the buses are clearly marked. Sources say some have been treated while others are awaiting treatment. We spoke with union shop steward Michael Enriquez Monday night by phone.
"This is the most I've seen this year," he said. "Usually we would never see buses knocked out for bed bugs. It seems to be an epidemic that's spreading."
Drivers say buses suspected of having bed bugs are flagged for inspection at the end of a shift.
The reports came as a surprise to some drivers. Union leaders say it's unusual to find bed bugs on buses but not unheard of.
"At one point in time, our buses were regularly fumigated and there would be a sticker placed on the bus with a note that it was fumigated," said Enriquez. "This practice seems to have ceased for whatever reasons."
Monday night, an MTA spokesman downplayed the reports.
"We have no confirmed samples of bed bugs on buses; this is a precautionary measure," said the spokesman. "When a bus is suspected of having bed bugs, we immediately quarantine it for inspection, and treatment is done if necessary."
"I haven't heard anybody talk about it, nothing," said transit rider Cathy Myres. "I'm going to take the train more often."
UPDATE: The MTA says there are no confirmed cases of bed bugs on MTA buses, but that six buses from Kingsbridge Depot in the Bronx were quarantined on a report of the buses having bed bugs. The buses were checked Tuesday and given the all-clear. The buses will be put back into service.