The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched its pilot to use powerful ultraviolet lamps to disinfect New York City’s subways and buses.

The agency says it will deploy 150 mobile devices to clean subways, buses, and subway stations as part of the first phase of the pilot. The second phase will focus on MetroNorth and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains. The MTA says it will spend $1 million on the project, according to NY1.

The effort is part of a partnership between the MTA and Columbia University, which theorizes that UV light can be used to kill diseases on the transit system. The MTA is using the devices during its nightly cleaning procedures, for which it took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire subway system for four hours every evening.
What we are doing here is reducing the level of the virus in subways, and therefore decreasing the risk of anybody catching COVID-19 on the subway.

The UV light that will be used in the current overnight subway and bus disinfection program is very efficient in killing the virus that is responsible for COVID-19.

David Brenner

Director, Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research

The lamps emit rays called “UVC,” a relatively obscure part of the spectrum that consists of a shorter, more energetic wavelength of light that can be harmful to humans if exposed directly. The MTA says it will be following strict protocols “to ensure the safety of the employees and customers.”

UVC is particularly good at killing organic material — whether in humans or viral particles — and some experts believe it can be effective in destroying the novel coronavirus.

UVC lamps and robots are commonly used to sanitize water, objects such as laboratory equipment, and spaces such as buses and airplanes. If the MTA results are good, transit officials said they will expand the pilot to include more trains and buses.
Confirming recent reports that the TSA is considering a plan to check the temperatures of passengers as they go through airport security at what could be multiple U.S. airports, Sen. Charles Schumer on Tuesday released a public letter seeking more official information on the effort. “Before a plan like this is cleared for takeoff, the TSA needs to take the temperature of a variety of stakeholders, and that includes Congress,” said Schumer.

“TSA, as an agency, has not been immune to COVID and some agents have sadly passed away. That is why any plan to assign agents a task that might be considered outside the general scope of their actual training will require a detailed and public proposal before it simply gets the all clear to fly.”