Better glove up! NYC subway teeming with bacteria; CTA can't be any better

From the "well, duh!" file comes the New York Times story that the New York's subway system "is filled with hundreds of species of bacteria (mostly harmless), the occasional spot of bubonic plague, and a universe of enigmas. Almost half of the DNA found on the system’s surfaces did not match any known organism and just 0.2 percent matched the human genome."

A bunch of researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College scraped stuff off poles and other NYC subway surfaces and submitted them to 17 months of study. They published a 16-page article of their findings, and created a very cool PathoMap to show what bacteria, etc., could be found where.

bacteria cellSo what does this mean for the CTA? To me it means we all better leave our gloves on in the winter and stock up on latex gloves for the other seasons. One has to figure what they found in New York can't be much different from what researchers would find here.

Here's what I do know: The CTA does take cleanliness serious. The CTA in July 2012 adopted a new, much stricter standard for bus cleanliness that included changing the bus cleaning process from a 2 1/2-hour interior detail to a 4-hour general clean.

Also, cleanliness is one of many metrics it tracks on monthly metrics reports. The latest CTA report from November 2014 shows that the average interior rail clean inspection score was 93.7 percent. The average interior rail clean inspection score was 86.6 percent. Both of these scores met or exceeded the target scores.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some funky bacteria on that rail strap or bus pole.

Glove up, Bucky!


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  • In reply to Craig Jackson:

    What profit Craig? The CTA runs about a 60% deficit.

    The only thing that could be said about the seating arrangement it that it provides sleeping space for those who do not pay fares and proably leave e coli and other stool samples. Nobody knows if anyone is transmitting TB on the CTA, let alone the freaky measles scare.

  • It freaks me out when I see riders touching their faces, or ugh, putting their hands in the mouths. I'm very careful about doing that, and make sure my first stop when I get to my destination is the bathroom to wash my hands with plenty of soap and hot water. 'Still, I've noticed that I've caught more colds and flu since starting to ride the CTA 6 years ago. No surprise.

  • Hand sanitizer is your friend. :)

  • In reply to mulder42:

    Hand sanitizer is good for a limited amount of time. But once you get home, wash that off with good ole soap and water. It's been proven that if you put that on daily, it changes the chemical structure on your skin and body. You just need to be careful with that stuff period.

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    I figured, when I lived in Hyde Park, that I would bike downtown, except that my then employer didn't offer a shower there.

    Now it appears from what you say that showers and strong soap should be a mandatory convenience for workers who ride CTA.

    I guess this is as good as any reason to ride Metra or telecommute.

  • I am surprised that some school hasn't thought to do this as a science project and publish their findings. Every school has a science project due & this would be good for them and us.

  • I carry plastic gloves and sometimes rubber ones from the Dollar Store. The CTA is totally filthy! I think we're lucky they clean the stations let alone the handrails. When I get home each night, I do wash my hands just because it's the CTA I've been on for at least an hour.

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