SEPTA has launched a partnership with Drexel University aimed at improving efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation.
Together, the institutions will pursue more than $600,000 in federal funding to develop and test new air and surface cleaning technology, SEPTA announced Tuesday.
“This partnership will help keep SEPTA on the cutting-edge of efforts by public transportation systems to battle COVID-19,” said SEPTA General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “SEPTA is extremely fortunate to have a neighbor and partner like Drexel University, and access to their world-renowned research and expertise.”
In cities all over the world, public transit has continued to run throughout the pandemic and public health experts have said the systems can be used safely if precautions are taken. Philadelphia officials have maintained that SEPTA is safe to use as long as riders respect physical distancing rules, wash hands and wear masks.
“There have been no direct links between riding SEPTA and contracting the coronavirus,” Richards said.
Among SEPTA’s workforce, however, there have been 794 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported, so far, and 423 have returned to work. The authority lists 31 of its work locations as having confirmed cases.
“By partnering with Drexel, SEPTA will be positioned to continue to adapt and add measures to improve the safety of customers and employees,” Richards said.
The partnership will focus on understanding the role of masks, ventilation, air treatment and surface cleaning in preventing transmission of the virus, developing strategies that SEPTA can deploy in the near future and guiding the agency in communicating these new safety protocols.