7Investigates: MBTA’s new cleaning protocols not being followed in some stations amid coronavirus emergency

BOSTON (WHDH) - With worries about the coronavirus spreading through Boston’s public transportation system, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced the T would begin taking strong measures to protect passengers.

On March 4th Poftak said, “We are putting a protocol in place where each of our stations, all the contact areas where people are touching, for instance, guardrails, handrails, fare equipment will be cleaned every 4 hours.” But more than a week later, a 7NEWS investigation raises questions about whether that’s been happening.

7NEWS staked out the subway stations that run through North Station last week and we did not see workers cleaning every four hours.

7NEWS was watching for five hours last Wednesday, from 1 pm to 6 pm.

We didn’t see anyone cleaning or disinfecting high contact areas.

The next day, the same thing:

From 11:35 am to 5 pm – five-and-a-half hours – and no one was cleaning.

And the next day:

Friday from 10:30 am to 5 pm – another six and a half-hour stretch and no one was disinfecting.

We asked the “T” for North Station’s cleaning schedule and a spokesperson told us to file an official request for the information. That could take weeks.

So we asked the governor what he thought.

Gov. Charlie Baker said, “I know the policy is every four hours. I speak to a specific incidence. Did you ask the folks at the T?”

When we responded that we had, Baker said, “it’s a four-hour requirement. I can’t answer beyond that but I will follow up with the general manager.”

We told the T what we witnessed, and were told:

“We are contacting the cleaners to ensure that the newly-implemented protocols are being followed,” and that ”with safety as a top priority, the MBTA has facility managers and coordinators throughout the transit system monitoring the cleaners’ work for compliance. T managers are actively engaged, and if corrective action is necessary, it will be taken.”

We wanted to talk to the T’s general manager but were told his schedule was full.

We did uncover some good news in our investigation: at the same time a 7NEWS crew was at North Station, another crew watched the Downtown Crossing station being regularly disinfected.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)