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Chicago transit agencies vs. coronavirus

Public transit agencies say they are working to keep trains and buses germ-free, but some aren’t taking extra steps.

An empty CTA bus
Some public transit agencies have added extra rounds of sanitation, while others say cleaning protocols meet CDC guidelines.
Sun-Times file

Public transit agencies say they are working to keep trains and buses germ-free, but not necessarily taking extra steps, as more people contract coronavirus across the United States.

“We are absolutely concerned about the safety of our customers on every level, and this is no different,” PACE spokeswoman Maggie Daly Skogsbakken said. “We’re monitoring it, and we’re obviously putting some manhours into making sure we’re prepared.”

PACE has added an additional round of sanitation to its nightly cleaning routine for its buses and are giving hand sanitzer to “frontline staff.”

Its also amped up internal communications to staff reminding them to wash their hands, avoid touching their faces and stay home when sick. The agency also has canceled public meetings as a precaution, suggesting virtual meetings when possible.

Metra’s precautions are similar, closely following CDC guidelines to prevent coronavirus spread. Metra asked cleaning crews to pay special attention to high-touch areas, including handrails, armrests and doors, according to a statement. Metra is “maintaining their schedule” — not increasing sanitation — and adding hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes and disinfectants to their inventory of hygiene products for employees.

CTA has not made many changes to the way it cleans trains. Its vehicles and stations receive daily cleanings already, which include disinfecting surfaces.

“CTA has a rigorous cleaning schedule for our vehicles and rail stations that is among the strongest in the transit industry,” CTA said in a statement. “Though CTA already follows industry best practices, we will continue to monitor information and procedures that could further enhance our efforts.”

The South Shore Line is increasing how often it cleans and is buying new products that have a “longer-lasting ability to kill viruses,” spokesman Mike Noland said.

It’s also asking commuters to follow CDC guidelines to keep trains sanitary.

“We’re going to turn to our commuters to follow the advice of health experts, so that if you are starting to get sick, stay home and work from home,” Noland said. “You know what to do. ... We just need to be smart and follow the advice of the professionals.”