New Edmonton LRT train seats help prevent spread of germs

·3 min read
The old fabric seats are being replaced by these blue seats, which are made up of a harder rubber type material that includes a germ-killing additive. (Edmonton Transit Service - image credit)
The old fabric seats are being replaced by these blue seats, which are made up of a harder rubber type material that includes a germ-killing additive. (Edmonton Transit Service - image credit)

Edmonton Transit Service is installing germ-killing seats on its newer trains.

"We've got 51 of the 57 [trains] complete as of today, and by the end of this week we'll have all 57 done," Craig McKeown, director of LRT operations and maintenance, said Wednesday.

A germ-killing additive in the new plastic seats can reduce up to 99.9 per cent of germs including bacteria, fungus and viruses, but the verdict is still out on whether it's effective against COVID-19, McKeown said.

"The additive manufacturer, they haven't tested it specifically against COVID-19 so we don't know for sure," he said.

"That being said, we also electrostatically spray every train before it goes into service everyday and we use an agent that is known to kill COVID-19."

The new seats are easier to clean and maintain, and are expected to last the remaining life of the LRT cars, McKeown said.

The new seats in the priority seating area come with a splash of yellow.
The new seats in the priority seating area come with a splash of yellow.(Edmonton Transit Service)

McKeown said the cost for the new seats is just over $20 million and the money is coming from Public Transportation Infrastructure Funding, which involves multiple layers of government.

It's one of more than 30 different public health measures that have been taken by ETS over the past year to help keep transit riders safe.

"That includes everything from adding shields on buses, sanitizer and wipes for our operators, electrostatically spraying all of our trains and buses and stations on a daily basis," McKeown said.

"Our staff really have gone above and beyond to keep our vehicles and stations as clean as possible."

ETS also recently launched a pilot project that it hopes will help close the door on germs.

The bright yellow square on this door called a germ-killing push-plate, is made up of compressed salt which ETS says is a safe surface to touch.
The bright yellow square on this door called a germ-killing push-plate, is made up of compressed salt which ETS says is a safe surface to touch. (Edmonton Transit Service)

In January, it partnered with local biotechnology company, Outbreaker Solutions, to install germ-killing push-plates on entrance and exit manual swing doors at some LRT stations and transit centres.

"It's bright yellow and it looks like a piece of ceramic but it's highly compressed salt," McKeown said.

"So instead of pushing the door on say the handle, or say the steel plate, the idea is you push this salt product and it's a clean, safe surface to touch."

McKeown explained that while the salt has been tested and shown to be effective against viruses, it too hadn't been specifically tested to see if it works on COVID-19.

"However, based on how COVID-19 looks in comparison to other viruses, there's a high likelihood it does," he said.

As an added bonus, McKeown said there is no cost to the taxpayer for the compressed-salt project.

"We're allowing this local biotech company to trial their product in our public spaces at the benefit of Edmontonians."