Mass transit agencies on either side the Hudson are taking different approaches to address the coronavirus threat.

The MTA plans to sanitize its entire rolling fleet every 72 hours, something that NJ Transit is not yet planning to do unless a specific case calls for it.

There are two confirmed cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 in New York state but none in New Jersey as of Tuesday morning.

NJ Transit officials said Tuesday that the agency has protocols and procedures "for the cleaning and, if needed, disinfection" of its buses, trains and facilities, which are cleaned daily.

Tuesday afternoon the agency issued a statement that it will "enhance current cleaning procedures" to augment its daily current practices" with additional disinfection regimens on its rail, bus, light rail and Access Link using bleach/water mixes and other disinfectant sprays and liquids.

Hard surface cleaning and disinfecting typically includes handholds, arm rests, seating areas and restrooms.

NJ Transit said it has will also increase the frequency of cleaning regimens for all stations using cleaning agents that are deemed effective for these purposes and contain anti-viral components such as bleach/water mixes and other disinfectant sprays and liquids.

The agency said areas regularly cleaned include are doors, door knobs, windows, benches, partitions, trash cans, elevators, escalators, handrails, ledges, all restrooms and floor surfaces and all floor mats.

The agency said it has formed an internal task force that includes "highly-trained and experienced staff from its medical, Office of Emergency Management, environmental, safety, communications departments and all operating lines, and is closely monitoring news about COVID-19."

“We will continue to coordinate with the state’s coronavirus task force and are prepared to take any and all steps necessary to protect the health and safety of our customers and employees," president and CEO Kevin Corbett said.

If a case of COVID-19 were confirmed and determined to involve an NJ Transit train, "additional protocols would be employed to disinfect the affected vehicle(s). These protocols would be consistent with the best available guidance’s from federal and state health agencies."

The MTA said that they will significantly increase the "frequency and intensity of sanitizing procedures at each of its stations and on its 6,714 subway cars, 64 Staten Island Railway cars, 2,200 LIRR and Metro-North cars, 5,700 buses and 1,341 dedicated Access-A-Ride vans.

Frequently used surfaces in stations such as turnstiles, MetroCard and ticket vending machines and handrails will be disinfected daily using EPA-approved and CDC-endorsed disinfectant.

A rider who traveled through Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station on Tuesday morning said that she saw no signage about coronavirus adding, "It's filthy here."

MTA worker at NY Penn Station
MTA worker at NY Penn Station (Rebecca Weiss)

According to the World Health Organization, there is little risk of any communicable disease being transmitted on board an aircraft because of the recirculated air inside the cabin of a plane.

The state Department of Health said that passengers in a train or bus may be at greater risk because they are in close contact with people for extended periods of time.

"The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person — between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) for extended period of time — through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes," spokeswoman Janelle Fleming said. "These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs."

Spread can also occur from contact with infected surfaces or objects by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, according to Fleming.

Some steps you can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent coronavirus.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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