Bedbugs bite Wednesday night rush under Queens Boulevard

In this file photo, subway riders wait on the platform of the Forest Hills 71st Avenue station in Forest Hills.
In this file photo, subway riders wait on the platform of the Forest Hills 71st Avenue station in Forest Hills. (Xanthos Julia/Xanthos Julia)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Jan 22, 2020 | by Clayton Guse and Bill Sanderson

A bedbug infestation in an underground subway workspace slowed the homeward commutes of thousands of straphangers Wednesday night on the Queens Boulevard line.

E, F, M and R service were affected by the delays that started around 4:30 p.m., the MTA said.

The problem arose in a subway control tower at the Forest Hills/71st St. station, said MTA NYC Transit president Andy Byford.

When an employee reported seeing bedbugs in the tower, “we immediately took action to fumigate the tower, which resulted in an evacuation until tower staff were able to safely return at approximately 7:30 p.m,” Byford said in a statement.

Towers are places where railroad staff control switches that route trains. The subways use the word tower to describe such control facilities even though they are underground.

Because the Forest Hills/71st St. tower was evacuated, there was no subway staff available to turn around trains on the M and R lines, which end their runs at the station.

That forced the trains to be rerouted, and turned around further east on Queens Boulevard.

NYCT Subway

@NYCTSubway

At approximately 4:30pm, our management team requested a fumigation of the Continental Master Control Tower, which we immediately commenced. All of our personnel were evacuated from the tower.

NYCT Subway

@NYCTSubway

Continental is where the track switches at 71 Av are controlled. Without human operators, our ability to turn trains around at the terminal was compromised. That caused severe disruptions along the E, F, M, and R lines.

“We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers as we worked to address the issue and ensure the safety of our employees,” Byford said.

The problem was finally cleared up at around 8:30 p.m.

Byford said the problem wasn’t expected to affect the morning commute.

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