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Can Public Transport Increase Your Chances of Getting Ill?

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Many people are put off travelling by public transport because they think it is overcrowded, dirty, and worry that it will increase their chances of catching an illness from a fellow passenger.

There are obviously differing views on this subject, and transport companies will tell you that they are frequently cleaning their vehicles to ensure that they are clean and enjoyable to travel on. Many modes of transport even offer WiFi for passengers to use on their journey, and the costs of travelling by public transport are usually a lot less than the cost of buying and running a car.

A very interesting piece of research has recently been published that undertook an analysis of London’s public transport, and most commuters would probably be horrified to read the findings. The headline summary showed that London Metropolitan University found 121 different bacteria and mould on London’s public transport system. The underground system was found to be the worst of all and types of bacteria included traces of both faecal and sewage bacteria.

Buses didn’t fare too well either, but had fewer bacteria types than taxis. Unfortunately for many people, there aren’t really any alternative options to taking public transport. For people who don’t own cars or haven’t learnt to drive yet, public transport is their only means of getting to where they need to go. If you fall into that category, then you will no doubt want to use hand sanitizer as much as possible if you don’t already. If you haven’t passed your driving test because you are struggling with your theory test, did you know there are free mock tests that you can use? Get more information here.


So, what can really be done about the state of public transport? Not a great deal it would seem. How many times do you see people putting their feet on seats and transferring whatever they have walked in onto seats that are sat on? It is difficult for transport workers to monitor and sometimes they can feel intimidated by groups of people behaving disrespectfully.

While there may not be any fully conclusive evidence that you are increasing your chances of getting ill each time you use public transport, there are clearly some cleanliness issues that will certainly make some people try and find alternative travel solutions. Car sharing is becoming more popular, and many companies encourage car sharing by offering free parking or other incentives to help reduce car emissions by ensuring fewer cars are making the journey to the workplace.

In any publicly shared areas, there is always going to be a big chance that it is going to be dirty or be found to have bacteria due to the scale of usage. It would be very hard for public transport to reduce the current findings in terms of bacteria completely, but they could certainly try and ramp up their cleaning schedules to ensure more thorough cleaning takes place throughout the day.