Commuting Safer: Why Clean Air on Public Transport is Paramount
Commuters were quick to abandon public transportation at the onset of the pandemic, and ridership is still at record low levels. How can transportation authorities woo riders back to trains and buses?
The COVID-19 pandemic instantly transformed the way that we once thought of everyday activities. Suddenly, things like popping into the grocery store became scenarios that required weighing a list of potential risks and donning protective gear. Nowhere was that more obvious than in the almost instant abandonment of public transportation. Even in cities like New York, where taking the subway was a way of life, buses and trains sat empty for months.
While researchers disagree about the specific risk of COVID-19 infection on public transport, one thing is clear: Buses and trains are often hotspots for a wide variety of respiratory illnesses, and commuters understand that. Transportation and municipal authorities are struggling to woo riders back to their systems.
Public transport: Ground zero for airborne pathogens
Dr. Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, told the BBC that coronavirus particles linger in enclosed airspaces, posing a particular risk on buses, trains, and subways.
“If you’re close enough to smell someone’s garlic breath on public transport, then you’re also potentially inhaling any virus that’s carried with it,” he explained.
It’s not just the COVID-19 virus that commuters can pick up while on their journeys. According to a 2021 study published in the biomedical journal Medwave, there is a clear correlation between the amount of time people spend commuting by bus and an increased likelihood of becoming ill with the common cold.
“Individuals who commuted more days per week, spent more minutes per day on the [outbound[ and return trips within public transportation, and used [more frequently] metropolitan and the municipal bus corridor were associated with a higher incidence of colds,” the researchers reported.
Beyond a case of the sniffles, airborne pathogens on public transportation can also result in more significant illness. Researchers from the University of Nottingham in England also found that bus, train, and subway riders were a whopping six times more likely to develop an acute respiratory infection (ARI). More serious than a common cold, ARIs can create severe illness that requires hospitalization.
Restoring rider confidence
The pandemic saw serious drops in the number of people using public transport. Transportation authorities reported a staggering 87 percent drop in ridership in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a stunning 74 percent loss in subway-centric New York City from pre-pandemic levels. And that trend sees no signs of letting up.
Despite widespread vaccine rollouts and a gradual return to the office from the work-from-home model, commuters haven’t flocked back to public transportation in droves. Federal statistics indicate that overall national ridership remains at just 59 percent of pre-pandemic levels. That’s not just bad news for traffic — public transportation is a major factor in improving overall air pollution by reducing emissions, and mitigating damage to the environment.
That’s not to mention the loss of revenue for municipalities, who often rely on even reduced-priced tickets as a major source of funding for their public transport systems. If ridership remains at these dramatically reduced levels, there’s a significant risk that entire bus or rail lines will need to be canceled due to their financial infeasibility.
How TADIRAN AIROW™ helps
The TADIRAN AIROW hydrogen-peroxide air purification system is a formidable pathogen disnfector . Its unique proprietary technology is highly effective at reducing airborne pathogens, including the COVID-19 virus, bacterias, and molds by up to 99.998%.
The system transforms water molecules already present in the air to cleansing, pathogen-eliminating hydrogen peroxide. The plug-and-play, hands-off solution can be seamlessly installed into a bus or train’s current HVAC system, and requires virtually no maintenance.
To ensure that your drivers and passengers are as safe as possible from nasty airborne pathogens and pollution, consider a hydrogen peroxide air purifier. It can make the difference between buses and trains sitting empty forever, or a better world for us all.
It’s clear that for a greener world and more livable urban centers, authorities must encourage as many people as possible to utilize public transportation. But with the very real risk of respiratory illness looming large in the public’s mind, governments must take steps to restore rider confidence by promising that the air inside buses and trains is safe to breathe.