Pittsburgh’s Port Authority to disinfect its vehicles every 24 hours

    The Pittsburgh skyline (Pittsburgh Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

    By Charlie Deitch

    In light of the first two cases of Covid-19 in Allegheny County, the Allegheny County Port Authority announced it will increase the frequency in which it disinfects its vehicles.  The Authority also announced that while there are no plans for operational changes now, “Port Authority service is highly dependent upon its workforce. Should the Authority not have drivers available, it may be required to reduce service ad hoc or systemwide.”

    The agency said in a statement:

    “We have known that it was simply a matter of when — not if — we would see our first cases,” Kelleman said. “Luckily, I have observed firsthand Port Authority’s ability to overcome adversity during challenging times, and I know we will do everything possible to continue to watch out for our riders and for each other.”

    On Thursday, Port Authority announced it would begin cleaning “high touch” areas of vehicles every 72 hours. Following today’s announcement, those areas will be cleaned daily. Major stations will continue to be cleaned daily, as will vehicles operated by ACCESS, Port Authority’s paratransit system.

    There are no plans for any operational changes at this time. However, Port Authority service is highly dependent upon its workforce. Should the Authority not have drivers available, it may be required to reduce service ad hoc or systemwide.

    Health officials recommend individuals who experience potential symptoms avoid public areas, including riding transit. Symptoms include high fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

    Riders are encouraged use common sense hygiene practices to limit the spread of germs and illness, like washing your hands or using hand sanitizer immediately after riding the bus or light rail vehicle; changing your seat if you notice someone near you who appears to be sick; sitting down if possible so you can avoid holding on to poles and straps; and staying home if you are sick. 

    “Even with increased cleaning, the inescapable reality is that the surfaces of a newly cleaned bus or rail car can no longer be assumed sanitary after passengers have climbed aboard,” Kelleman said. “But doing simple things like washing our hands and social distancing will have the greatest impact protecting ourselves, our families and our communities.”

    Charlie Deitch is editor of the Pittsburgh Current, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared