Marseille’s transport system has been battling an infestation of cockroaches and bedbugs.
Last week, 20 buses were stopped from leaving their depot after the discovery of cockroaches. A first fumigation had taken place on the weekend of July 1, but more were found a few days later, prompting a second one to be scheduled. It is unclear at this stage whether another will be required.
Meanwhile, bedbugs have been found on the metro. They were discovered on around a dozen drivers’ seats.
Some drivers have continued to find bedbugs in their cabins, and the local union has called for insect specialists to intervene.
Until now, all disinfestation operations have been carried out by Marseille’s transport authority, the Régie des transports Métropolitains (RTM).
Nicolas Covarel, RTM’s director of buses and trams, told local news source La Provence: “We did use pretty strong insecticides.”
RTM also stated that it usually treats its buses and trams as a preventive measure every May.
The RTM Force Ouvrière union said that some drivers have been bitten by the insects and have had reactions. Others have found that the bugs have made their way into drivers’ own homes, requiring the drivers to pay for fumigation and insect experts, without any financial help from the RMT.
The union said that as many as 30% of drivers are still on sick leave as a result of the infestation.
The weather has been blamed as the main catalyst for the insect invasion.
Mr Covarel added: “We are facing a rather unprecedented phenomenon, with an upsurge in these pests due to heavy rain and hot weather, which has encouraged egg-laying.”
The union has suggested that the poor condition of the drivers' seats, many of which were damp and torn, it said, may also have played a role because the insects like hiding in small, dark cracks and transport pipes.
It comes as the metro recently said it would begin making announcements in Provençal. Now, what’s the Provençal for cockroaches…?