Air Filtration System on Buses, Federal Mask Requirement Allow for Return of Routes
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will restore 58 previously suspended bus routes on Saturday, April 24, after completing the installation of state-of-the-art air filtration and purification systems on all buses and receiving support from the federal government to enforce mask wearing. MARTA suspended 70 of its 110 bus routes on April 20, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was intensifying and the need for maintaining social distance was paramount to reducing the spread of the virus. In the months since, 12 routes have been reinstated as conditions allowed
“We understand the reduction in bus routes created a hardship for many of our customers, and we are appreciative of their patience as we balanced providing a service with protecting public health,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “Public transit by its very nature goes against social distancing and by placing all 540 buses in our fleet on a reduced number of routes a year ago, we were able to provide more room for our customers and hopefully slow the spread of the virus. With the installation of filters that rid the air of harmful pathogens and the new federally mandated mask requirement, we feel we can now safely return to full bus service.”
Over the past few months, MARTA has installed Bipolar Ionization air filters on all buses, in addition to the antimicrobial filters already in place. These newest air-filtering devices eliminate airborne pathogens and deliver clean air every 75 seconds, without producing ozone or other harmful by-products. All buses will continue to be thoroughly disinfected every 24 hours, as well as cleaned mid-service as needed. Protective polycarbonate shields remain around all bus operator cabs and free masks are available on board every bus, either through a mask dispenser located near the front door, or from an operator when dispensers are running low.
“Protecting the health of our customers and the bus operators who have continued to work throughout the pandemic providing an essential service, was our first priority,” said MARTA Deputy General Manager of Operations Collie Greenwood. “It was imperative that every bus was equipped with an advanced air filtering system and that all customers were masked before returning to pre-COVID bus service levels.”
MARTA’s Bus Operations and Planning Department will spend the next few weeks preparing for full route restoration by updating digital and print bus schedules, removing signage from previously closed bus stops, and assigning routes to operators.
For bus route information and videos detailing the restoration of service and COVID-19 protocols visit https://www.itsmarta.com/servicerestoration.aspx. For real-time service alerts follow @MARTAservice on Twitter or download the MARTA On The Go app.