Metro Vancouver public transit authority TransLink will expand its use of copper as the material for high-touch surfaces on transit vehicles, while the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will introduce the usage of antimicrobial copper coating for its system.
In partnership with Vancouver-based mining giant Teck Resources, as a measure to develop innovative ways to improve health safety on public transit, TransLink first began testing the use of copper surfaces in late 2020, with researchers later determining that copper can naturally kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on surfaces within one hour.
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Further study allows researchers to examine the potential impact of reducing the spread of infections from surfaces.
“The pandemic has taught us to be bold and innovative to continue meeting the needs of our customers. Through this copper pilot, we have partnered with healthcare professionals to find creative ways to make transit cleaner and safer for our customers,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn in a statement.
“We’re so excited to have our industry-leading pilot expand nationally to learn more about copper’s potential health benefits on transit.”
Following the early successes in Metro Vancouver, the pilot project is being further expanded to the buses, subway cars, and streetcars on the TTC, and additional buses and SkyTrain cars on TransLink.
This expanded test tests three types of products, including functional copper surface layers, copper alloys, and copper decals.
Samples will be analyzed from copper surfaces and non-copper surfaces on both public transit systems by Vancouver Coastal Health’s microbiology team, with support by Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital/University Health Network and the University of British Columbia. Tests of the samples will occur every two months over a year.
There are no financial costs to TransLink and the TTC for this pilot project, which is being fully funded by Teck to demonstrate the advantages of their copper products in both healthcare and public space settings.
“Safety has always been the top priority for the TTC – and it’s important that both our employees and customers feel safe every time they’re on one of our vehicles,” said Richard Leary, CEO of the TTC.
“Participating in a pilot like this with our hospital partners is a real opportunity to look at new ways to curb the spread of infection. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of innovating and planning for the future. I’m proud that the TTC is working with Teck to do just that.”
Angela Chapman, the president and CEO of the Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital Foundation, added: “Vancouver Coastal Health’s Infection Prevention & Control leaders are among the best in the world and we are thrilled to see their important research project expand across the country. Donor support is vital to accelerate and expand projects like this copper trial and we’re grateful to Teck for continuing to fund this vital research.”