New studies: public transportation is not a hotbed of COVID-19 infections

New studies: public transportation is not a hotbed of COVID-19 infections

Avoid public transportation – this has been the advice from several countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. International studies now indicate that the fear of infection in metros, buses and trains may be excessive.


For some Transdev operations in the Nordic countries, public transportation has been running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – but with certain measures and travel advice to reduce the risk of infection.

For operations in other countries, parts of public transit have been shut down completely for periods. In some places, all passengers are required to wear facemasks in order to travel.

Studies: the risk of infection in public transport is lower than feared

But now international studies show that public transportation may not be the major hotbed of infection that has been feared.

According to a survey among transit companies, conducted by the New York Times, no major spread of infection has started in public transit. Contact tracing by the French authorities in Paris showed that the 386 clusters identified between May and mid-July could not be traced to public transportation.

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In Austria, no corona cluster could be linked to public transportation between April and May. Neither in Tokyo nor Hong Kong where Transdev operates the iconic Hong Kong Tramway were the authorities not able to find traces that clusters have been started in railway lines or on buses, reports the New York Times.


Safer to take the subway than to eat indoors

Experts say that it is difficult to track clusters in public transportation. The chances of finding infected people who have been in the affected carriages or vehicles are almost unlikely.

“The spread of infection is very anonymous and relatively volatile,” said Crystal Watson, a Researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

To establish that there are no clusters in public transportation is thus difficult.

There are so many other factors that affect how you assess that risk.

Dr. Michael Reid, expert in contact tracking and Assistant Professor at the University of California

At the same time, several experts believe that it is probably riskier to take the metro than to walk outdoors, but safer than eating indoors. Behavior in public transit may also indicate that the risk of being exposed to the virus is lower. Passengers usually travel by public transportation for a short time and rarely talk, which reduces the amount of aerosols. Lower risk of infection in some public transit systems may also be due to several countries taking measures such as requirements for wearing facemasks or better ventilation.

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