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December 28, 2009

MTA rider finds roaches in her coaches

Reader Deborah O'Sullivan had a problem with the Maryland Transit Administration that was really bugging her, so she turned to Getting There for help. She wrote:

I noticed that you did a story on the appointment of Ralign T. Wells as the new MTA administrator.  In the interest of the hundreds of us who ride the MTA 120 Bus out of White Marsh, I am requesting your help and maybe you could let Mr. Wells know that the bus line is infested with roaches.  The roaches crawl all over the windows and onto the riders, making for an extremely traumatic ride to and from work.  These conditions are unhealthy and disgusting. 
                                                                                      Photo by Clipart Graphics

I am an M&T Bank employee and work at 25 S. Charles Street, in the corporate headquarters building.  The process of de-bugging myself and my clothing when I get to work is horrifying and humiliating.  We have alerted the MTA but have not received any satisfaction.

MTA spokeswoman Cheron Victoria Wicker passed along this reply:

Each day before Local Buses are placed into service MTA’s operations staff thoroughly clean and inspect the vehicles. This includes the application of pesticides to control insects. We have recently increased the frequency of spraying, and every bus was treated over the past several weeks. This should address any issues with insects, but we welcome reports from riders if they experience otherwise. Our goal is to develop an effective extermination program while adhering to OSHA and EPA regulations that govern the use of insecticides and protect public health. We also need cooperation from our customers. It is against the law to eat and drink on an MTA bus or train, and although we have signs posted throughout the system we often find food left behind which attracts insects.

Wicker added that the MTA has specifically checked conditions on Route #120 and  has taken measures to deal with the vermin. She suggested that riders who have comments, questions, compliments or complaints deliver them through the MTA’s website. She said each is read and referred to the appropriate department.

I appreciate Wicker's suggestion, but the MTA could do a lot better job of designing its web site to make it easier to give feedback. Then there's the fact that many of its riders don't have computers. It's a tough challenge dealing with riders who insist on eating donuts on the bus, but the agency needs to do a better job of welcoming and responding to customer complaints.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Local bus lines


I like how the explanation did not deny or confirm the complaints of the riders, thus allowing the MTA to avoid explaining how it happened in the first place.

I don't think operations staff clean buses. I believe this work is contracted out and due to a state law must be offerred to various agencies that employ disabled people, such as BARC. These people do a perfectly fine job under good (the contractor's) supervision, but perhaps the supervision has been lacking or the contract has lapsed.

Oh great, so we're all riding around on pesticide-laced buses that are "sprayed regularly." Even within OSHA and EPA regulations (which were of course developed in concert with lobbyists for the pesticide industry), regular exposure to pesticide increases the risk of everything from birth defects to rheumatoid arthritis to cancer. Roaches are annoying, but I'd take them over cancer.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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