UWS Schools Get New Trash Bins in Continued Rat Elimination Effort

Last year, the city launched an effort to combat the rat epidemic by moving trash bags from the sidewalk into sealed containers. This initiative expanded last weekend, with the addition of new bins at four public schools.

Rat-proof bins were brought in and placed on the street outside P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon (234 West 109th Street); P.S. 145, The Bloomingdale School (150 West 105th Street); the Edward R. Reynolds/Young Women’s Leadership School (140 West 102nd Street); and JHS 054 Booker T. Washington (103 West 107th Street).

These locations are an expansion of the pilot program which started last fall in a stretch of Harlem spanning about ten blocks (an area which includes fourteen schools).

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So far, the program has been a success, said Joshua Goodman, a deputy commissioner for the NYC Department of Sanitation. He said that rat sightings decreased by 68 percent between the time the bins were introduced in September 2023 and the end of the year, compared to the same period in 2022.

“We’ve gotten some really amazing results,” Goodman said. “We’re getting rat food off the streets and it’s really working.”

The program is being rolled out in phases as different sectors of the city are required to have trash bins with secure lids. Restaurants have been required to have them since last August and by this Friday, March 1, all businesses in the city must have bins with secure lids.

As the program is still new, the bins being used are on wheels to accommodate transferring bags into existing trash trucks. Eventually, Mr. Goodman said, the bins will be stationary.

While most of the news has been positive, the biggest complaint so far seems to be that the bins are taking up on-street parking spaces. A custodial worker at one of the UWS schools said he’s heard from angry teachers who were surprised Monday to find that a few of the parking spots designed for school staff were occupied by the bins.

“Unfortunately they’re taking up some parking spaces but hopefully it will be worth the inconvenience,” the custodial worker said. “This is life, anything with change (isn’t easy). But in the long term we’ll get used to it and adapt.”

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The bins have been working well in the few days since they arrived, he said. “So far, so good. It’s definitely making it difficult for the rats to get access to the trash bags. Before, we just put them out on the sidewalk. This is definitely something good.”

He thinks the change will benefit both locals and tourists.

“The city has been getting a bad reputation for being dirty and having rats and that’s not good for tourism,” he said.


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