BART to add denser air filters to cars, testing 'Roomba-like device' for disinfecting trains

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By KCBS Radio

BART has announced the addition of denser air filters throughout its fleet, part of an effort to upgrade the agency’s air quality as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

BART’s air filters actually sit under the train cars and are rated on a scale of 1-20 for their ability to capture particles of a certain size. The new MERV-14 filers can capture particles between .3 and 1 microns, compared to the old MERV-8 filters, which could only trap particles between 3 and 10 microns.

BART's MERV-14 filter (left) has denser folds than the MERV-8 (right).
BART's MERV-14 filter (left) has denser folds than the MERV-8 (right). Photo credit Maria Avila/BART

"We've completed the evaluation and gotten the numbers back," said Ben Holland, BART Manager of Vehicle System Engineering. "We feel really confident about moving forward with the MERV-14s. We’ve set up stock numbers for them to be implemented fleet-wide."

The new air filers were tested for about six months.

The agency also announced two ongoing tests with similar purposes. The first was for ultraviolet UV-C lighting located in a train car’s HVAC unit, which "looks promising," according to Holland. The other is a "Roomba-like device that can vacuum and disinfect" BART’s train cars at the same time.

BART's so-called "Roomba-like device" is still in the testing phase.
BART's so-called "Roomba-like device" is still in the testing phase. Photo credit Maria Avila/BART

"We are open to all different kinds of technologies and innovations," BART Chief Safety Officer Jeff Lau said. "We are trying to be a leader in the industry in keeping our patrons and employees safe. I’m very confident that our system will be as safe, maybe even safer, than before (COVID-19), thanks to enhanced cleaning and changes in behavior like wearing masks."