Funds target Vermont transit COVID-19 research

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The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has earmarked $581,201 for the Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) to research COVID-19 public transit safety.

The endeavor seeks to find solutions to cost-effectively and efficiently sanitize public transit vehicles as a means of combating surface and airborne virus spread. The work scope is slated to involve the testing of two UVC lighting products, far-UVC and UVC, determining efficacy in stopping the spread of COVID-19 compared to current cleaning protocols.

“If the technology is effective, there will be a tremendous benefit of reducing the risk of exposure to those who depend on public transportation to access jobs, medical care, and services as well as drivers,” AOT Public Transit Manager Ross MacDonald said. “This new sanitizing method could also increase public confidence in the safety of using public transit for those who can otherwise drive, thereby increasing ridership and strengthening the public transit system for those who depend upon it.”

AOT is slated to purchase and install far-UVC and UVC lighting units in buses and cars and conduct public opinion research to determine whether the technology increases public confidence in transit.

Additionally, AOT’s Public Transit Program has agreed to work with Dartmouth College and selected Vermont transit providers to design and implement the project.