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Filter and flow: Learn more about air circulation on Community Transit buses

Here’s some refreshing info that will help you breathe easy while riding Community Transit: there is excellent air circulation and ventilation on their buses to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Even with the windows closed, the air inside of Community Transit buses is exchanged with fresh air about every five minutes. Photo credit: Community Transit.

A Community Transit sponsored article, June 30, 2021.

Here’s some refreshing info that will help you breathe easy while riding Community Transit: there is excellent air circulation and ventilation on their buses to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

One of the main ways COVID-19 spreads is through respiratory droplets in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Outside those droplets quickly dissipate, but indoors when there is poor ventilation, they can accumulate.

So, how safe is the bus and what’s being done to keep the air moving? We have answers. 

Airflow & filters

Along with vaccinations and face coverings, airflow and air filtration offer an added layer of protection for people riding on buses and in vanpools. 

Even with the windows closed, the air inside of Community Transit buses is exchanged with fresh air about every five minutes. As weather allows, drivers and riders may also open windows for additional circulation. Doors opening and closing at each stop also increase airflow, too. 

In addition to natural airflow, every bus in Community Transit’s fleet has a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that helps move air throughout the cabin of each vehicle. 

Filters in HVAC systems are rated by their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, on a scale from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific sizes and types of particles. Community Transit upgraded to MERV 7 filters on all buses in late 2020, the highest-rated filter currently available for installation with their HVAC systems.

What can be filtered out? 

So, why MERV 7 filter and not MERV 16? More filtration can reduce the rate of airflow in an HVAC system. If you’ve ever tried to blow out a candle with a mask on, you’ll know that it takes more force to move air through your mask. Picking the right filter is about balancing between air filtration and airflow within an HVAC system. 

So, what does the MERV 7 rating mean when it comes to filtering the virus?

Viruses are incredibly small compared to many particles that we may inhale. However, viruses generally don’t travel through the air by themselves, but through respiratory droplets that are much larger than an individual virus. MERV 7 filters can help filter out many of the particles that may carry the virus.

Ready to ride?

With proper precautions, people can breathe easy knowing that taking public transit is a safe option for travel. Learn more about the many steps taken to protect riders and drivers, and how you can help keep others safe when riding Community Transit at communitytransit.org/ridesafely.

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