NYC Subways will Start Using UV Light to Kill Coronavirus


Adi Goldstein

NYC is implementing a new program to fight the coronavirus on subways. (Photo/Adi Goldstein/Unsplash)

Natasha Ray, Features Editor

Though the spread of COVID-19 is an enormous concern right now, essential transportation is still in use in major cities. This is the case in New York City, where the subways are still running. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working hard to sanitize the cars by thoroughly cleaning them every night, but a new technology is sure to be put in place soon to effectively kill coronaviruses. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, working together with Columbia University, has spearheaded this effort by introducing a technology that is meant to kill coronaviruses, as well as a host of other diseases such as Ebola, SARS, and Influenza. This technology is UVC light, which can be harmful to people: therefore, every evening, from 1 am to 5 am in New York City, the subways are shut down so that they can use this method to clean the cars. David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, remarks that he is in the process of adjusting the technology to “UVC-far” lights, which would be able to be in use while people are actually riding the subway. The lights are used to emit a special type of rays called UVC, which essentially encompasses all wavelengths between 200 – 280 nanometers (nm). This type of UV light is often used to sanitize hospital rooms, so by eliminating the viruses on the subway, it decreases the risk of anyone being infected by merely riding the subway. 

Although since the beginning of the pandemic, New York City subway usage has decreased by 90%, it is still one of the main modes of transportation used by essential workers to get to and from their jobs. PURO, the company that provides the UV light technology for this initiative, is working closely with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to ensure that the technology works successfully. So far, the UV lights have been proven to kill the COVID-19 viruses. Currently, this is only a pilot program in phase one, which means that there are 230 UV lamps put out on trains to test their efficacy. If that phase goes smoothly, the UV light technology will be expanded to Long Island Railroad and Metro-North trains.