Call It The Clean Line: MBTA Vows To Disinfect Buses, Trains To Combat Coronavirus

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MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
MBTA Green Line train at Boylston Station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The MBTA will disinfect buses and train cars more frequently amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

T officials announced Wednesday that the agency will ramp up its cleaning of the entire public transit system, and also encouraged riders to be mindful of their personal hygiene.

More than a million trips are taken on the T everyday. Commuters are often sandwiched together during rush hour. Hand rails are shared as people try to hang on during a ride. So, there are plenty of chances for germs to spread.

MBTA general manager Steve Poftak said the agency will install hand sanitizers in its facilities, and ramp up how it cleans stations.

"All the contact areas where people are touching — for instance, guardrails, hand rails, fare equipment — will be cleaned every four hours," Poftak said.

The agency will also disinfect all of its buses, subway cars and other vehicles.

"We are going to move to a protocol where we will be disinfecting every vehicle, every day," Poftak said. "Right now, we have enough equipment on hand to be doing that on the commuter rail. We expect by the end of this week to be able to do it across the system — buses, subway cars and paratransit vehicles."

Some riders are already taking their own precautions.

"I've upped my hand hygiene. I usually try to wash my hands whenever I get to my destination after taking the T," said PhD student Scott Donahue-Martens, who was commuting from Park Street station to Wollaston Wedneday. "I've also been cleaning my phone a lot more since I know that I usually will hang onto something with the T and then touch my phone. So, I don't want to increase my risk of having something passed from there."

Donahue-Martens expects other riders to do their part too.

"I would certainly hope that anyone who has flu or flu-like symptoms would stay home and not take the T and do everyone a favor by not getting everyone else sick as well," Donahue-Martens  said.

Commuter Sengin Holland said those who are sniffling should be more mindful of other passengers.

"Definitely avoiding coughing and stuff like that, covering their mouths — that would be great because I see it all the time and I'm like, 'OK, I'm going to walk away from you right now," said Holland, who uses public transit everyday to get from Lynn to his customer service job in Quincy.


Holland said he's also taking personal precautions.

"I'm just keeping rubbing alcohol in my backpack [and] trying my best to avoid touching certain things on the train," Holland said.

Some riders who are concerned about coronavirus say they're even wearing gloves while they commute.

Others aren't that concerned about coronavirus.

"As far as I've heard, I feel like the sample size is pretty small with most of the people succumbing to illness being like elderly or already predisposed to illnesses," said Kimberlee Manora, who rides the T daily. "So, as of right now I'm not terribly concerned."

Whether you're concerned about the coronavirus or not, if you're riding the T you can expect to see more signs reminding riders to be mindful of their personal hygiene.

Meanwhile, state public health officials continue to say the risk of contracting coronavirus remains low in Massachusetts.

This segment aired on March 5, 2020.


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Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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