NFI Parts: navigating the re-start of your business
NFI Parts™ has considered its approach and role in increasing the safety of bus and coach transportation. After a thorough review of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance as well advice from industry stakeholders, including the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), we are pleased to share our approach to improving the safety of the bus and coach transportation industry. We have created four principles of transportation safety: Distancing, Disinfecting, Air Quality and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
The COVID-19 virus primarily spreads through airborne particulates traveling to others and infecting them through droplets. Sneezing and coughing cause virus particles to become airborne. Transit systems and private operators have taken steps to protect their drivers from droplets that may contain viruses. Where possible, transit systems have begun to implement rear door boarding to minimize the proximity of operators to the hundreds or thousands of passengers they transport each day.
Operator barriers have become more popular over that last several years, primarily due to safety concerns, but also have become a primary tool in promoting physical distancing. Decision makers at transit systems are considering many options, including high-end driver barriers primarily designed to prevent an attack on the driver. It is important to consider useful life, material thickness, and an operator’s goals (droplet barrier only, or droplet + contact barrier) when selecting a barrier.
The well-known six feet or two-meter guidance termed ‘physical distancing’ is the primary way to combat this mode of virus transmission. Typical transit bus and motor coach configurations were not designed around these guidelines. Various methods can be employed to ‘disable’ seats in a way to preserve distancing.
Increasing cleaning and disinfecting efforts have been a focus across the transportation industry. Daily protocols everywhere are being enhanced and executed more frequently, and more is being done while vehicles are being operated. The CDC recommends three methods to disinfect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus: use an EPA approved disinfectant like Sani-cide or Environize, use a diluted bleach solution, or use an alcohol-based solution of at least 70% alcohol. Bleach and ammonia-based disinfectants are not recommended for use in bus and coach applications as they can cause damage to interior surfaces. Disinfecting solutions can be applied to interiors in a variety of ways; for example, hand washing, wet mopping or low-pressure fogging systems.
Regular use of CDC approved disinfectant products can help to reduce bacteria on the surface of vehicles and create a safer environment for passengers. It is important to choose options which are safe for your staff to use, and for customers to come into proximity with.
Mounting evidence suggests that the primary mode of COVID-19 virus transmission is through the air. Virus particles transfer to others through coughing, sneezing, talking and breathing. Effort should be made to reduce the virus spreading through this medium. Air should also be sanitized while it is being circulated within the vehicle.
A regular maintenance item, it is good practice to change out your air filters every three to six months. High MERV rated filters, antimicrobial filters and frequent filter changing should be part of any air quality strategy.
UV lights are a low-cost, chemical-free and convenient way to sanitize the air being circulated in the bus. These run in the background alongside the HVAC system when it is turned on, reducing viruses, bacteria, and mold in the air as the vehicle runs.
Ventilated roof hatches can be used to draw fresh air continuously into the vehicle. These are easily retrofitted into most transit buses and motor coaches and are a quick, cost effective method to improving air quality within a vehicle.
Hand sanitizer and masks made available onboard may make passengers feel more comfortable. While it is becoming more common practice for people to have these items when they leave home, providing the option for those exiting and entering vehicles is a good way to show their well-being is taken under consideration by operators. Touchless dispensers, and individually wrapped masks limit exposure to contact. These items have become high in demand in all areas, so it is important to ensure all vehicles have enough supplies to re-stock throughout the day.
These four principles to improve the safety of our industry are critical to restoring consumer confidence as our economy begins to re-open. There is no one solution to reducing the spread of COVID-19; we all must continue to implement strategies which work in conjunction with one another. NFI Parts™ is proud of the service that our industry provides. We know that there are many other organizations also offering valuable products, and we encourage you to make the right decision for your business, whenever you’re ready.