Ventilation on BART Amid COVID-19

Due to coronavirus concerns, BART, also known as Bay Area Rapid Transit, released an article stating, “BART is also pushing the envelope on what is possible in the area of filtration, with air exchange that compares favorably to other transit systems. Two new pilot projects are being tested at BART in August: a higher-grade, denser filter panel that will trap smaller particles, and an ultraviolet (UV-C) light source inside the HVAC unit that can zap a virus.”

The article continued to explain, “BART is working hard to reimagine transit service as the region begins to reopen and riders return. We understand the public is looking to us to provide reassurance that service is as safe as possible and social distancing is followed. To welcome riders back and regain confidence in public transit, BART is taking the following 15 steps while continuing to explore new measures and technologies that could assist in a safe recovery.”

Step 1 – Cleaning

Step 2 – Run Long Trains

Step 3 – Increase Train Frequency

Step 4 – Pilot New Seat Configuration

Step 5 – Require Face Coverings

Step 6 – Police Enforcement

Step 7 – Visual Indicators

Step 8 – Hand Sanitizer

Step 9 – Contactless Payment

Step 10 – Personal Hand Straps

Step 11 – Data Transparency

Step 12 – New Technologies, and Industry Ventilation Best Practices

Step 13 – Business Community Outreach

Step 14 – Healthy Workforce

Step 15 – Rebuild Infrastructure

Read Bart’s 15 Step Plan on their website.

In order to combat the virus, BART is currently requiring face masks and closing at 9 pm.

One of the pilot programs is to create a new vent that is made of, “A denser, tighter weave of materials that will choke off even smaller particles.”

“What we’re going to evaluate is how quickly do these denser filters become clogged…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?” Said Ben Holland, Manager of Vehicle Systems Engineering.

The role of particles smaller than most respiratory droplets is not yet determined, which is where the second pilot program comes in.

“UV-C is a proven technology, it’s just not been proven in a dynamic environment,” like a moving BART train, said Holland. All technology will be under the car, so BART is working to make sure the equipment will not be damaged while driving.

At any given moment, the air in BART trains is about 75% filtered and 25% fresh air drawn from outside the car. BART hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19 with a combination of fresh air, the two pilot programs, enhanced cleaning, and mask requirement.

“We are very open to new ideas…One of the takeaways (of COVID-19) is that we are constantly looking at new technologies and evaluating them.” Holland said as BART continues to test new ideas to help make riders feel safe.


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