Detroit bus drivers bugged about bedbugs

June 29, 2012 at 12:06 PM
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DETROIT, June 29 (UPI) -- The bus drivers union in Detroit has asked the City Council to pressure the transit authority to help stop the spread of bedbugs on buses.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Henry Gaffney said about 50 bus drivers have reported seeing bedbugs on buses and some reported having been bitten by the insects within the last year, The Detroit News reported Friday.

City Council President Pro-tem Gary Brown, who heads the Public Health and Safety Committee, questions the claims.

"There are no bedbugs on [Detroit city] buses," Brown said. "They can't live on a bus. People can bring them on, but they can't live on plastic chairs."

Detroit Transportation Department chief Ron Freeland said Thursday he received a letter in May from Gaffney and asked a maintenance crew to investigate. In a letter responding to the union, he said any infested bus would be cleaned.

Freeland told the Free Press the number of bedbugs found wasn't unusual for a service that averages 100,000 riders each day.

"I, personally, am not aware of any widespread problem," he said. "Where we do have problems, we are in fact dealing with it."

Gaffney said transportation officials should be taking preventive measures.

"If this continues to get bad, you can't force anybody to work in those types of conditions," he said. "It's not fair to the citizens either. Somebody's got to care somewhere in this city."

Bedbugs are flat, parasitic insects that feed on blood of people or animals and spread by attaching themselves to people's clothing or luggage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site said. Once in a person's home, the bugs hide in beds or other furniture.

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