Photo of rat at 9th Ave. 36th St. subway station in Brooklyn, New York.
Rats are not the kind of rodent that usually inspires one to spring up and snap a photo. They’re neither chipper like squirrels, nor cuddly like hamsters. Yet a group of fed-up New York City subway workers are asking commuters to bring along their cameras and take part in their Rate My Rat photo contest.
How to play? New Yorkers are invited to log on to www.ratfreesubways.com
and post the photos and locations of rats they have seen scampering, scuttling, or chowing down on discarded foodstuff while riding the subway. Judges rate the rats for “nastiness” on a scale of one to five. A rat that scores a one is considered “handsome”, whereas a five is “beastly”. The rat with the highest “nasty” score is the winner.
Fun as it is, Rate My Rat is part of a more serious campaign to pressure New York’s public transportation system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
, to clean up the city’s subways. Launched by Transit Workers Union Local 100
(TWU Local 100) in September, the New Yorkers Deserve a Rat Free Subway campaign demands that the MTA remove trash from stations more frequently, patch up rat holes, provide more rat-proof rubbish bins on platforms, and conduct more frequent exterminations.
The MTA has reportedly defended its efforts
to keep the city’s subways spic and span, saying it regularly removes rubbish from the platform and tracks, has installed rodent-resistant bins, and uses rat poison in non-public areas.
Nonetheless, Rate My Rat has become so popular that the site’s server crashed last weekend due to the influx of traffic it generated.
New Yorkers can post their “nasty” rat photos until Friday, January 20, when TWU Local 100 plans to announce a winner. The prize for having the foulest rat photo is a month-long MTA Metro Card, which, with a value of $104, is no laughing matter.
This rat was spotted at the West 4th St. station in Manhatten.
Somebody's thirsty! This rat was snapped at New York's Grand Central Station.
This rat was found in a Downtown subway station in New York. Photos courtesy of www.ratfreesubways.com.