New York City is the hub of activity, the place to be, the place to visit and the roost of rides, rats and roamers. From hailing a taxi, taking the bus to riding the daily subway, New York City offers many modes of transportation. It becomes almost first nature to ignore the family car and opt for the subway or taxi for the ride to work, a doctor’s appointment or a night out on the town. Visitors flying in for a getaway or businessmen on a day trip can easily hail a cab and rely on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help them get to their destination.
The MTA offers many options, including railroads and city buses, but the most relied upon mode of transportation is the subway system. Four out of every five people are workers relying on the system for their daily commute to work. The MTA covers an area of around 5,000 miles in and around the New York City area and serves close to 15 million riders each year. Saving gasoline and parking fees, many are doing their part to leave a positive carbon imprint.
Movies and television shows have caught glimpses of the hustle and bustle of New York City, including Steve Martin hailing a cab in Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Sandra Bullock as a shy attendant in While You Were Sleeping. Mass transportation is a fact of life in the Big Apple, but is not without its sordid affairs of poverty and want. Taxi cab chases, drug deals and drama have all been played out on the screen and in real life.
New York City is a hospitable place, welcoming all walks of life, ethnic groups and styles of living. Unfortunately, all walks of wildlife and critters also feel welcome and happily abide within the city limits. Rides within the city are quite easy and so is the life of a rat and roamer. Mass transit means rides for many people as well as massive trash outputs. Attracting commerce to the big city involves massive amounts of trash that attract rats and roamers.
MTA has done all they can in recent years to upgrade their system by spending well over $72 billion toward improvements over the last two decades. They do what they can, barring natural disasters such as floods and usual human habits from disrupting their mass transit system. Critters are also in force each day, which provides an ongoing challenge to smooth riding and transportation.
Roamers have found homes within the subway system, knowing all the secret maintenance doors and storage areas. The “mole people,” as they are referred to, are the homeless that make their homes in the nooks and crannies of the dark tunnel below the hubbub of activity on the streets. They become accustomed to the damp, dark cement corners of the underground, munching on discarded half-eaten pizzas and sandwiches. The roamers survive on handouts until they are rounded up and taken elsewhere to shelters and such. In the meantime, they are content to call the tunnel their home and tranquilize themselves by listening to with the usual roundup of trains passing by.
Rats, the furry critters of the city, love to hunt in the trash, searching for their next meal. Waiting for subways allows humans to discard half-eaten gyros, fried rice and treats which are quickly picked up by the rats. Wannabees and rats devour the discarded food, making the area their home by default. Trash bins become treasures, and who could blame them when they only desire to survive? Traps and poison do not work as officials have provided sterile treatments for rats, who reproduce at unheard of rates.
Rides, rats and roamers are within the city limits of New York City, like it or not. All will survive by their own means of transportation and promote their own mission of happiness. It’s a free ride for some, and the others just get to enjoy the bounty of human nature and wildlife along the way, within the confines of a city transportation system.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon