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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Madison Metro addresses public concern after bed bug sightings on buses

Officials confirmed two bed bug sightings on city buses but said Madison Metro is working to contain the issue.

Madison Metro Transit confirmed two bed bug sightings on city buses, the department announced Tuesday

The discoveries of single bed bugs occurred on Sept. 22 and Oct. 24 while mechanics worked on the buses, according to the Metro Transit website. Both buses were quarantined, underwent a canine inspection and were treated. 

Metro Transit received two additional unconfirmed reports of bed bugs but did not physically locate the insects. 

Three locations in the Metro Transit maintenance building — a management office, the drivers’ rest area and a mechanics’ locker room — also received canine inspection and were quarantined in early October, but staff did not locate any bed bugs.

Mick Rusch, chief development officer for Metro Transit, told the Cap Times city officials “don’t see the issue as being widespread” at this point in time.

“It’s our understanding that bed bugs are transported by humans. Unfortunately, it’s also our understanding that this is something that can happen in public transportation,” Rusch said. “We’ve been talking to our pest control vendor and other transit systems and have learned the best course of action is to treat the area as soon as a bedbug is discovered.”

Before infestation, bed bugs are commonly found in the cracks and gaps in furniture, bedding, trim and window coverings, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County. Although bed bug bites may cause an allergic reaction, they don’t transmit disease, and only 30% of people exhibit signs of a bite. 

Rusch said the city has been treating areas where bed bugs are reported. 

“What we’re doing now is immediately treating areas where a bed bug has been discovered or if someone has suspected one is present,” Rush said.

Metro Transit spoke with three pest control companies and two transit systems, who recommended that individual buses be treated when reports arise rather than targeting the entire fleet. 

“The pest control companies have said the products used don’t last long in terms of prevention, and an individual could carry one on the bus a couple of days later,” Metro Transit’s statement read. “It would then be necessary to treat again.”

Metro Transit encouraged residents to call (608) 266-4466 or email if they see a bed bug on a city bus. In a statement to The Daily Cardinal, Rusch said Metro Transit “is aware and completely understands passengers’ concerns on this issue.”

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“We have been on top of it from the beginning and are following all recommendations and procedures that we’re receiving from our pest control company,” Rusch said.

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