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This month, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officials are testing two new pilot projects to improve train air filtration to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
BART is testing a higher-grade, denser air filter panel that will trap smaller particles on trains, and an ultraviolet (UV-C) light source inside the train's HVAC unit.
One of the pilot projects, to be used in five train cars, will test new filters rated at MERV-14 — a denser, tighter weave of materials.
Air conditioning system filters are rated by their ability to block different-sized particles, a rating known as their minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, on a scale from one to 20. BART cars currently use MERV-8 filters, which can trap particles between three and 10 microns in size, BART officials said in a news release.
“What we’re going to evaluate is how quickly do these denser filters become clogged,” said Ben Holland, BART's manager of vehicle systems engineering. “We’ll be asking, ‘How long do they hold up? How long are they effective? Can we stay on the schedule for their preventive maintenance?'"
BART is also testing use of UV-C light in ventilation ducts to kill micro-organisms on one train.
“UV-C is a proven technology, it’s just not been proven in a dynamic environment,” like a moving BART train, Holland said.
HVAC units on BART cars are situated in the undercarriage of the trains and are subject to wear and tear on the rails. Crews will monitor the pilot car’s performance over coming weeks and months.
In Atlanta, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) board yesterday awarded a $850,000 contract to Global Plasma Solution to install air purification systems in existing air conditioning units at 18 MARTA facilities in order to eliminate airborne pathogens and deliver clean air.
The needlepoint bipolar ionization filters will be installed on 209 AC units at the MARTA headquarters, rail yard towers, police precincts and other facilities.
Meanwhile, MTA Long Island Rail Road reconfigured vending machines at two locations in New York Penn Station to allow customers to purchase items of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, hand sanitizer and gloves.
LIRR continues to distribute free masks and hand sanitizer at its stations and on trains.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) crews yesterday began installing face mask and hand sanitizer dispensers on 160 light-rail and four streetcar vehicles. The installations are expected to be complete by early September, DART officials said in a press release.