MTA announces plan to use UV lamps to disinfect trains, buses

Kimberly Dole
May 04, 2020 - 7:50 am



NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The MTA announced on Sunday, its plans to use ultraviolet lamps as a method to disinfect trains, buses, and work areas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The transit authority partnered with scientists at Columbia University, previously testing UV light technologies as a way to quickly eliminate other diseases. 

In an effort to upgrade from the bleach and chemical sprays currently used to clean, transit officials say that beginning the week of May 11, lamps that emit "UV-C" rays will be placed inside subway cars and buses at two MTA rail yards and a bus depot.

The rays can be harmful if directly exposed.


Although research has not completely determined that the UV lights can kill COVID-19, David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research said it would be "inconceivable to me that it wouldn’t kill this particular virus."

“There’s no doubt that it’s going to have some beneficial effect, because if you can remove all the viruses every morning then that’s going to be a big plus,” Brenner adds. “During the day the viruses start to come back as people are in the compartment and they’re coughing or sneezing or whatever.”

A small number of trains and buses will test the lights. Officials hope to expand the program if Columbia researchers deem it effective.


According to Brenner, his team is also working on "far UV-C", a technology that could kill COVID-19 without harming people.

This technology could be used to disinfect subways and buses with riders are already aboard.

“The MTA is exploring every solution scientists and the market have to offer in our effort to ensure the transportation system is safe for our customers and employees,” said MTA chief innovation officer Mark Dowd. “The pilot project involving this proven UV technology is another example of that as we look for alternative ways to effectively reduce risk on train cars and buses.”

Beginning on Wednesday, the city's subways will shut down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for thorough disinfecting after an announcement from Gov. Cuomo, and will remain in effect for the duration of the pandemic.