MTA Turns to New Labor Source: Rats

The MTA addresses new budget gaps by replacing thousands of workers with rats.

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By Cindy Yang

As I’m sure you are all aware, the MTA, the crown jewel of NYC, is in danger. Anyone who has braved the treacherous depths recently has seen the horrors of empty seats, which are dragging the transit budget with them into their nothingness. But fear not—in an exclusive interview with The Stuyvesant Spectator, MTA interim president Sarah Feinberg announced her plan to deal with significant budget cuts while continuing construction and signal improvements.

As of this week, Feinberg is hoping to furlough half of all MTA employees to be replaced by a perfectly viable alternative for labor: rats. “We ultimately decided on this plan because humans were just too expensive,” she said. Having worked for the MTA for years, Feinberg had become fed up with the insufficiencies of humankind. Citing our inability to reproduce faster than the diseases that plague us, she suggested that hiring rats would reduce the need for health insurance and overtime. She explained, “Those rats are like disease pioneers! Like, if you carry so many illnesses, you have to be immune to everything, right? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, anyway. And besides, they don’t even need overtime! Really, what’s with us humans? We can stare at screens all day and night, but we can’t fix 100-year-old wiring all day? Disappointing.”

Another main factor in this decision was the potential for better health guideline enforcement. As Feinberg explained, “I mean, who better than rats knows how to squi— no I mean space out living creatures? We’re hoping to hire some rats—‘pack rats,’ as I like to call them—to pack humans into trains in the most efficient way and, uh, rat out those who do not comply with social distancing.” Non-compliant citizens, Feinberg continued, would have a rat scurry around their feet and up their pants until they shriek loudly enough and back away in the correct direction. To encourage greater mask use, she hopes to “let the rats mark the place as really, officially their own.” Figuring subway riders—so used to the smell of humans marking their territory—would be unpleasantly surprised by a change of species, the MTA plan hopes people will mask up in order to avoid the smell.

The sense of ownership felt by many rats over their soon-to-be-re-scented motherland makes Feinberg and other MTA workers confident in terms of continuing renovations. In an e-mail interview with John Samuelsen, the head of the Transport Workers Union of America, he brushed aside the minor inconvenience that half of his colleagues would have no jobs to instead praise the rats’ mastery of the subway system. “Oh, what any of us would give to be able to crawl around inside our wiring tunnels and sniff our little noses at the prehistoric machinery that is our signaling system,” Samuelsen lamented. He noted, provided that the MTA could make some great and rapid leaps in human-rat miscommunication, the rats would be model workers. “They’re like the best New Yorkers,” he said. “Like, who else would just scamper off civilly if you nearly stepped on them? Not me, that’s for sure.”

In fact, several new MTA initiatives rely on the unique abilities of rats. One such project aims to add a backup signaling system based on rat pheromones, which Feinberg described as “primarily out of tradition. We, as the MTA, have always used the oldest technology and consider ourselves to be pioneers of redundancy and absurdity. How much older can you get than biochemical signaling predating literally all of technology, right?”

Another project, called project EEK, aims to address pest control issues by partnering with local pigeons. As Feinberg said, “Everyone’s always going on and on about how many nasty little creatures there are in the subway system. Well, you know who the real puny monsters are? We are! Especially people who are afraid of giant rodents—they are the real pests! I mean, would you be able to do tail-breaking work all day while ugly monsters chase you around and scream?” The MTA plans to deal with these pests with a scaled-up trap-and-release operation, saving millions on other pest control strategies.

Thus far, Feinberg stated that the implementation of the new MTA plans is going smoothly. Training is underway, and to the dismay of the raccoons usually hired for garbage collection, new recruits are being paid in kind. Despite multiple public interviews conducted by The Spectator on the contrary, Feinberg is optimistic that New Yorkers will see a marked difference in their beloved transit system and its budget woes. “That is,” she continued, “if the trends of 2020 don’t extend into 2021. That would be very unfortunate.”