Covid-19 World First: UK bus company installs air cleaning technology

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Own Buses, based in Warrington, northwest England, is thought to be the first bus company in the world to install air cleaning devices across its entire operational bus fleet, in order to best protect its drivers from the risk of airborne transmission of Covid-19.

The company has installed 86 AirLabs AirBubbl air cleaning devices in the driver cabins of their buses. The AirBubbl filters more than 95% of airborne viruses and contaminated particulate matter and floods the vehicle with over 30,000 litres of clean air every hour, to keep drivers safe as they provide vital public transport services.

AirLabs, the London-based scale up behind the AirBubbl device, is now focusing on its new air cleaning solution for the passenger cabins of public transportation, including buses, coaches and trains.

AirLabs last week received a US$100,000 grant from Barclays and Unreasonable Impact to bring its Covid-19-response AiroSafe technology to market. The AiroSafe is designed to remove airborne coronavirus from the passenger cabins of public transport, by creating a personal air space for every seat.

AirLabs aims to install the first passenger protection units with partners by October this year, having worked closely with key players in the rail and bus sector over recent months to develop the technology.

AirBubbl and AiroSafe could play a huge role in getting commuters back into work, reducing the risk of airborne transmission of the virus, enabling increased numbers of passengers to be allowed back on public transport and reassuring the public that it is safer to travel.

“As lockdowns continue to ease around the world, the focus now shifts to how we can get back to business safely,” says Marc Ottolini, CEO of Airlabs. “There is increasing acceptance of the role of aerosol transmission of this virus and that the dose matters, as higher exposures can lead to more severe illness. By installing our cutting-edge technology, you can massively reduce this dose and therefore the risk of infection.

“We have had significant global interest in our air cleaning technology since the virus struck and believe that it can play a major role in reducing the risk of exposure on public transport for drivers and passengers.”

“The priority for us is to protect the health and safety of our employees, who provide an essential service, and of course for our customers, the people of Warrington,” says  Stephen Stringer, head of engineering at Own Buses. “By installing the AirBubbl devices we’re ensuring that we can reduce the risk of exposure for our staff, who have done a fantastic job in serving Warrington during this crisis.”

AirLabs has published a white paper on reducing exposure to airborne viruses using air filtration systems. It sets out the evidence behind airborne virus transmission and how air filtration can effectively remove bioaerosol particles.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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