Let’s talk air flow in BART cars:
BART cars filter & replace inside air about every 70 seconds. This was the case before COVID-19 and is still now. Air is filtered more effectively than in an office or grocery store.
We’ve also begun new pilot tests for better filtration. pic.twitter.com/Wpw87HC49m
— SFBART (@SFBART) August 13, 2020
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.