Who Ya Gonna Call? PATH Workers in Futuristic Backpacks Keep System Clean

By Abigail Goldring, Media Relations Staff

The masked men and women walking through PATH trains with futuristic backpacks and spray hoses aren’t Bill Murray and his pals vanquishing evil spirits and gelatinous blobs of green ooze, Ghostbusters-style, to keep New York City safe.

No, these protectors are part of the PATH unit entrusted with a different mission, one more important than anything could have been imagined just a few months ago: keeping cars, trains and facilities disinfected and operational, to get essential workers to and from their destinations to combat a different kind of attack from COVID-19.

They are using state-of-the-art equipment to disinfect the PATH fleet faster and more efficiently than before. One such piece of equipment is an electrostatic sprayer, a 29-pound backpack filled with CDC-recommended disinfectant that is used to zap germs and viruses on poles, seats, windows, and everything in between.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of employees on every shift, PATH’s 350-car passenger fleet is disinfected every 24 hours, in addition to regular hand-cleaning cycles every 72 hours. It comes on top of around-the-clock cleaning at PATH’s “Car Wash/Running Repair” facility in Jersey City, where general maintainers address a range of service issues, including removing trash and mopping.

“The Car Wash is a hub of activity year-round, not just during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pete Harris, superintendent of the Car Equipment Division. “Between regular cleanings and repairs, and the additional manual cleaning and disinfecting due to coronavirus, my team takes their jobs very seriously. They understand that our customers deserve clean and safe rides, and we’re all grateful for their dedication.”

Harris added that the team has already shared positive feedback on the sprayers. “They are easy to use, reliable, and can effectively disinfect a train car in a matter of minutes,” Harris said.

path cleaning team

As customer expectations are evolving during the pandemic, so too are PATH’s cleaning operations, with greater reliance on more innovative methods to accomplish them. Working with the Port Authority’s Operations Services Department, PATH is continually evaluating and adjusting the equipment and procedures as needed.

“We are continually doing research and pushing ideas forward,” said Joy Chiu, PATH’s superintendent of Structures & Facilities. “Most importantly, we will continue to choose procedures that keep our employees and the public safe.”

So, don’t expect to see any evil spirits or green blobs on PATH trains anytime soon.

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