MTA Will Try Killing Coronavirus on Subways and Buses with UV Lights

The MTA has announced that it will attempt to eradicate the coronavirus from NYC subways and buses with the assistance of Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light machines.

The agency will be testing this out with about 150 mobile devices from Denver-based startup PURO Lighting. The devices will be installed on trains, buses, stations and occupational facilities. If the test goes well, they’ll expand to the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.


“This is a first of its kind pilot when it comes to transportation agencies around the world and we are proud to be a part of it. For nearly three months, the MTA has worked relentlessly to disinfect our entire fleet of subways and buses but we’ve always promised that we would explore any and all new approaches available to us as well. The launch of this UVC pilot represents a promising next step in our ongoing efforts to identify technologies that can keep our customers and employees as safe as possible.”

MTA Chairman and CEO, Patrick J. Foye

According to NY1, the MTA has spent $1 million on these devices, which each go for more than $6,500.

In March, the MTA began to work with PURO to demonstrate the effectiveness of UVC technology on NYC trains and buses, using smaller units so transit workers could move them easily and test them out in various locations. During this proof-of-concept phase, the agency requested the involvement of Dr. David Brenner, Director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research. This week, Dr. Brenner reported that the devices do in fact kill the coronavirus effectively.

“The UV light that will be used in the current overnight subway and bus disinfection program is very efficient in killing the virus that is responsible for COVID-19. What we are doing here is reducing the level of the virus in subways, and therefore decreasing the risk of anybody catching COVID-19 on the subway.”

Dr. Brenner

The pilot program is scheduled to begin early next week.

Here’s a video demo released by the MTA:

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