In an effort to make public transit safer for passengers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) workers have been implementing several new safety and sanitation measures including hand sanitizing stations, increased cleaning of cars, and new heating ventilation / air condition (HVAC) filters.
In addition to their new cleaning efforts, new UV light sterilization upgrades are set to be completed by March 2021.
The new UV light sterilization will provide a second line of defense against any airborne pathogens.
According to a SMART board agenda item presentation, “These systems break down the DNA within pathogens to keep them from growing, effectively killing them.”
Air filter upgrades have already been completed throughout SMART’s entire fleet and will be replaced during periodic maintenance work.
The new onboard air filters and circulation system filter the area roughly every minute and 20 seconds and every five minutes the entire car is completely refreshed with new air.
Twenty-five percent of the air supplied comes from outside of the train cars and 75% of the air is recirculated through the system.
“The new filters capture pathogens or anything else that might pass through,” according to SMART’s maintenance superintendent. Following the installation of the new filters air quality tests were conducted in the train cars. “The testing shows that this modification provides a 67% improvement over the old filters. Our earlier thought was that it might improve our air quality maybe by 20% but it was actually by 67%.”
The new MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) 13 filter can filter out dust mites and debris, bacteria, virus carriers, smog and allergens in addition to dust, mold, pet dander, and smoke.
In addition to these safety efforts hand sanitizers have been installed in each train car as well as signs that provide information on COVID-19 safety protocols.
Train engineers are also supplied with extra masks and hand sanitizing wipes in case passengers do not have a mask and or want to wipe down a railing or table before use.
Each train car is cleaned twice a day instead of once a day and maintenance crews are now using an electrostatic cleaning solution.
According to the same COVID-19 safety presentation, “The system applies a disinfectant that is CDC (Centers for Disease and Control) approved and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered against COVID-19. The electrostatic application system positively charges droplets of liquid that naturally seek out surfaces with a negative or neutral charge to adhere to. Just like magnets, they are drawn to each other and attach when one surface is more positively charged than the other. Adding another level of disinfection ensures exposed surfaces on the train cars are frequently and comprehensively disinfected on a daily basis.”
The maintenance team’s vigorous cleaning routine also includes wiping down seats, seat-back trays, tables, handrails, windows and luggage racks. The restrooms on the trains are sanitized and the interior train floors swept, vacuumed and mopped.
“We want to assure you that we are continuing to be proactive to help protect the health of our riders and our staff. Twice a day (at midday and at night) we are thoroughly cleaning and wiping down the trains with a disinfectant,” an official SMART statement said in March.
SMART General Manager Farhad Mansourian said as of Dec. 16 SMART has carried 1,930,852 passengers since service started in 2017.
Currently all weekend service has been temporarily cancelled and some weekday trips have been canceled as well. Train service will not be offered on New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.
To see the latest train schedule changes, visit: https://www.sonomamarintrain.org/schedules-fares