The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates the efficacy of disinfectants and currently lists more than 500 products registered to kill influenza A viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces, which it believes is effective against the 2009-H1N1 strain.
Areas of note, according to the CDC are:
- Seatbacks (the plastic and/or metal part)
- Tray tables
- Light and air controls, cabin crew call button
- Adjacent walls and windows
- Individual video monitor
- Lavatory(ies) used by the sick traveler: door handle, locking device, toilet seat, faucet, washbasin, adjacent walls and counter
- Luggage compartments
- Tables and chairs in dining, lounge or café cars
- Door handles and countertops
- Grab handles, rails, straps and similar fixtures used by passengers in transit
In October, Bombardier, a U.S./Canada-based company introduced its Healthy Transit Program at the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Annual Meeting. The Toronto Transit Commission has purchased the product to protect the interiors of its new subway cars. Ottawa’s OC Transpo will, over the next month, be treating the interiors of its “O-Train” fleet.
The program includes Bombardier’s antimicrobial surface treatment, an environmentally friendly, permanently bonding and non-leaching product that is applied using electrostatic fogging equipment, that ensures the entire interior of the transit vehicle is coated. The process is efficient and eliminates up to 99 percent of micro-organsims.
“We provide certified application of products, training for employees on pre- and post-treatment cleaning protocols and certification plaques for each treated transit vehicle,” says Mike Hardt, vice president of Services for Bombardier Transportation North America.
Once applied, germs that come in contact with the treatment are destroyed. Published data shows that the active ingredient is effetive at inactivating a wide range of viruses from the Influenza Virus A group for up to one year, which includes the H1N1 virus, bird flu, SARs and commom cold and flu viruses.
OC Transpo’s General Manager Alain Mercier says, ”With the seriousness of the current situation relating to the protection of our employees and of our customers who use and work in our transit systems, the benefits of the Bombardier program in relation to providing the highest level of protection is a good fit and is of true value to OC Transpo.”
A Changing Plan
Asato admits that the WMATA plan is fluid and able to adjust to pandemic diversions and changes. As the illness spreads, changes will be made to routes, or schedules to accommodate lower than normal riders. WMATA has also ramped up its supply chain should it require essential equipment such as filters, belts, tires, lubricants and sanitizing equipment.
The DHS plan asks that all public transport agencies consider the challenges of workplace absenteeism, looking to other organizations to fill in for temporary help.
Lastly, it asks that all transport companies meet with local government and emergency response offices on potential triggers and support plans.
DHS and the CDC continue to update information hourly at www.flu.gov. To learn more about transportation planning for a potential pandemic visit - http://flu.gov/professional/transport/index.html.