"It has been known for 100 years that UV light is incredibly efficient in killing bacteria," said Dr. David Brenner at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. "The UV light that's going to be used in the overnight subway cleaning is very efficient at killing the virus responsible for COVID-19."
Starting in subways, the MTA is testing 230 miniature portable UV lamps provided by PURO Lighting, a start-up. They cost $1 million, and if successful, the MTA would move to buses, then the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North.
"What we're doing here is reducing the virus in subways and buses," Brenner said.
The technology is the same that used in hospitals and in some police, fire and ambulances houses. The MTA is testing the best position for the lamps and whether they're more effective in the yard or at end-of-service stations.
"Dr. Brenner has shown that the use of UV light in a laboratory setting has eradicated the COVID-19 virus," MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye said. "The MTA is launching the first ever UV pilot proven to kill COVID-19. That's big news. This pilot will use UV technology to help disinfect our infrastructure."
The MTA is currently disinfecting 3,500 subway cars at least once daily, and some cars are cleaned as many as seven times daily at end-of-line stations.
"We are also experimenting with electrostatic sprayers and anti-microbials, which kill bacteria," NYC Transit interim President Sarah Feinberg said.
The pilot program uses UV-C light, which is less harmful than either UV-A or UV-B but still requires the subway cars to be empty.
"UV is a proven and effective technology and is 100% safe to humans after it is applied," Foye said.
MTA officials will monitor the result of the pilot in the hopes of expanding the UV-C use throughout the system.
ABC News contributed to this report
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