Mitigating the Spread of Viruses on Mass Transit: Proper Disinfection is the Key
Halosil Blog

Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

TransportationMarch 5, 2021

Mitigating the Spread of Viruses on Mass Transit: Proper Disinfection is the Key

Millions of people around the world use mass transit systems for travel and commuting. In 2019—the last “typical” year before the COVID-19 pandemic—Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation. Yet, these high traffic, high volume buses and trains not only transport people from one location to the other; they also transport germs.

To mitigate the spread of illness, routine cleaning and disinfection of public transit is becoming an increasing priority for transit authorities and riders alike. However, it is difficult to thoroughly disinfect the transit environment as there are many small spaces, moving vehicles, underground stations, and riders coming and going. Transit authorities must take extra steps to ensure more thorough disinfection of their buses, trains, and public spaces.

People Seeking ‘Cleaner’ Travel During COVID-19 and Beyond

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been limiting their mass transit usage. One survey reports that since the onset of the pandemic more than 50% of Americans have used public transit much less or not at all. Many people who continue to take buses and trains are concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other viruses. When asked what would make them more likely to use public transit, 61.5% of participants from the same survey said they would like vehicles, stations, and bus / train stops to be disinfected.

Studies support the public’s concern about the cleanliness of both the surfaces and air in mass transit systems. A recent report on particle concentrations in Northeast U.S. Subway Systems revealed that samples from each location contained concentrations of hazardous metals and organic toxins that ranged between 2-7 times the amount found in outdoor air. The researchers took more than 300 air samples during rush hour at nearly 70 stations. Analyses found that one Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) underground station platform between New Jersey and Manhattan had up to 77 times the typical concentration of hazardous particles as the city air above ground. This is the equivalent of breathing air from a forest fire or building demolition.

One of the researchers noted that their findings determined subway systems can expose millions of commuters and transit employees to air pollutants at levels that can pose serious health risks. Air pollutants, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can fall from the air onto surfaces, risking disease transmission to riders and operators.

How to Ensure Mass Transit Systems are Properly Disinfected

Results from studies such as this point to a growing need to improve conditions in public transit—from improving air quality to elevating cleanliness standards and disinfecting surfaces. Here at Halosil, we are experienced in disinfecting high volume, high traffic environments. Our Halo Disinfection System, originally developed to treat the healthcare environment, is now deployed to provide whole room disinfection in public settings—including mass transit systems—that have large and complex surfaces that are hard-to-reach using manual methods.

Below are some tips based on our experience disinfecting public trains and buses that you can apply to your transit center or other high-volume environment.

  • Create a regular disinfection schedule
    The first essential course of action is to create and adhere to a regular schedule of disinfection. This ensures that no bus, train, or passenger area is missed. This step should include spot disinfection of high-touch surfaces throughout the day, as well as more comprehensive disinfection cycles overnight to reach all the nooks and crannies where pathogens lurk.
  • Disinfect high touch surfaces thoroughly
    Buses and trains have many frequently touched areas—doors, handrails, headrests, seats, bathroom light switches, sinks, and toilets—plus less commonly touched areas under seats and on walls and windows. Manually wiping down every surface in hundreds of train cars or buses is a nearly impossible task for time-strapped transit teams. Electrostatic sprayers can speed up the process, but a sprayer is only as effective as the operator utilizing it. If the operator is rushed, certain surfaces may be missed altogether. Wherever possible, a more effective, thorough, and easy-to-use method should be considered, and dry fogging is the perfect solution.
  • Clean all shared equipment throughout the day and between shifts
    Commuters and travelers are not the only occupants present in transit vehicles—workers need to be protected from viruses too. Make sure to disinfect all shared equipment like steering wheels, radios, dashboards, control panels, and buttons to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens. In particular, when eliminating SARS-CoV-2 (the pathogen that causes COVID-19), consult EPA List N to find a disinfectant that meets the EPA’s standards to kill the novel coronavirus.
  • Consider material compatibility & residue
    There are many application methods for train and bus disinfectants—spray and wipe, UV light, and electrostatic sprayers, to name a few. But each have their own shortcoming for the transit space. Spray and wipe and electrostatic sprayers often require a wet application and leave behind a sticky residue that can make surfaces feel “dirty” even though they have just been disinfected. Repeated use of UV lights can result in material incompatibility issues including discoloration and brittle plastic surfaces. Only dry fog can reach all the surfaces in a transit system without damaging trains and buses or leaving behind a sticky residue.

A Thoroughly Disinfected Transit System Starts with a Reliable Product

Your disinfection efforts are only as good as the solution you use. Without a reliable disinfectant and delivery method, even the most diligent transit systems risk pathogens remaining in the cracks and crevices of their vehicles and stations. Halosil’s Halo Disinfection System® uniformly deploys HaloMist sporicidal disinfectant at the push of a button, delivering the solution via a dry fog that reaches every space inside buses, trains, and mass transit centers.

At Halosil, we have proven experience working with mass transit operators to provide reliable and easy-to-use disinfection solutions. Contact us today to learn more about our solution and see how it can help improve your current disinfection processes on your transit system’s trains, buses, and stations.