Workers disinfect parts of subways, buses every 72 hours as New York reports 1st COVID-19 case

Workers clean in subway station
Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 13:25:31-05

NEW YORK — Workers disinfected subway trains, stations and buses late Monday night in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus and ease the minds of commuters.

Crews will disinfect subway stations daily and will disinfect buses and subway interiors every 72 hours beginning Monday night, according to the union representing transit workers.

They'll target the interiors of subway trains and buses, subway turnstiles and station handrails, Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said. The change comes after the city confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus

“Once again, TWU Local 100 members on the front line are taking action to keep riders safe and secure," Utano said. "From the subway action plan to the coronavirus, transit workers deliver."

There are about 5,700 buses and 472 subway stations in New York. About 6,700 subway cars are in the current fleet at MTA NYC Transit.

MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said they'll "take all necessary actions to ensure our system remains safe."

Thousands of buses have been cleaned and disinfected, Foye said. About 1,900 buses will be disinfected Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Foye said the Long Island Rail Road's three busiest terminals have been disinfected and 121 stations are being cleaned. About 300 LIRR cars and 60% of Metro North's fleet have also been cleaned in the last 24 hours, and workers have cleaned 100%, or 1,341 access-a-ride vans.

Although the first confirmed case of coronavirus in New York did not involved the mass transit system, Foye said the MTA is "committed to doing everything we can to keep in front of the situation and protect our customers and employees,” Foye said.

MTA officials are not sure whether mass transit was involved in the second confirmed case.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it's part of new cleaning protocols. Schools will also be targeted for cleanings.

"They will use a disinfectant, many will use bleach, which is a good protocol in the flu season anyway," he said. "So if people smell, it smells like bleach when you get on a bus or a child goes to school, it's not bad cologne or perfume, it is bleach."