Saturday, October 25, 2014

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MTA Updates Subway Car Cleaning Procedures

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As part of its ongoing Ebola preparation efforts, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has updated its existing protocols for cleaning potentially infectious waste, such as bodily fluids, throughout the subway system. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

On Friday morning, millions of New Yorkers rode the subway just hours after officials announced that a Manhattan doctor who tested positive for Ebola had ridden in the subway system.

"I don't have a car. I need the subway," said one subway rider. "It's important that everyone stays healthy and that we all keep ourselves super clean."

However, even as some riders took extra precautions, for many, it was a fairly routine ride to work. Not quite the mayor and the governor, though, who turned his subway commute into a photo op.

"Just keeping close to myself a little bit, maybe just be a little bit more cautious about washing my hands a bit more and that, but not too concerned," said one subway rider.

That's as it should be, said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which tried to assure riders that Dr. Craig Spencer posed no risk to other straphangers during his rides on the 1, A and L trains.

"There was no risk to anyone who was on the train with him. There was no risk to anyone who got on the subway cars that he rode on. He was not contagious when he was in the system, and it's perfectly safe to be in the system," said MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg.

According to the city's Health Department, Spencer rode the A train to 14th Street on Wednesday evening before taking the L to Bedford Avenue.

Jarrod Bernstein, a former top official with the city's Office of Emergency Management, said it's worth noting that the doctor didn't exhibit any symptoms during those subway rides on the way to a Brooklyn bowling alley.

"So the risk of actually contracting Ebola when people are on the subway or bowling next to him is relatively low. I would say extremely low," Bernstein said.

But some changes are being made.

Since riders and transit workers could come into contact with human waste on any given day in the subway system, the MTA is altering how subway cars are cleaned."

"We are specifying that the bleach solution that we use to clean up any bodily fluids has to be at least 10 percent bleach," Lisberg said. "Biological materials that were taken out of the subway should be put in double bags just as a precaution."

And the pole? Officials says it's always best to hold onto it and wash afterwards.

Got A Transit Tip?

Do you have a news tip or story idea about the city's transit systems? Send an email to NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez.

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