UCL News


Research into minimising Covid-19 risk for bus drivers wins transport award

8 July 2021

The UCL team behind research into ways of minimising the risk of Covid-19 for London bus drivers has won the CIHT Healthy Transport Award 2021.

london bus

The CIHT Healthy Transport Award recognises the contribution of transport to the health of the population. Entries must focus on improving walking, cycling or public transport and recognise how outstanding design and implementation of schemes in our towns and cities improve the places around them and contribute to improving our health.

The team from UCL’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, in collaboration with TfL and TRL, conducted simulation research which found that minimising the gaps around a bus driver’s screen to five millimetres reduced the amount of exhaled breath reaching the cabin by 97%, greatly minimising transmission risk.

In response to the researchers’ advice in April last year, TfL worked with bus operators and the Unite union to introduce extra protection to bus drivers’ screens, covering speech holes and covering gaps around the card payment reader and windscreens. The simulations were carried out between April and July, with the researchers making recommendations based on their research throughout the process.

The CIHT praised the team’s “agile response” which “provided reassurance and better protection for bus drivers,” with the research being implemented across the 9000+ London buses currently in use. The heating, ventilations and air circulation (HVAC) systems of 1800 buses were also modified in line with the findings of the research, as well as new guidance for cleaning and driver practises being implemented.

Professor Nick Tyler, part of the team who conducted the research, said: "It is a great honour to receive the CIHT Healthy Transport Award, which is a recognition by the major professional institution for transport of both the importance of making sure that transport delivers health benefits and our part in contributing to this vision."

UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement), Professor David Price, said: “I am delighted that this brilliant team of researchers have won the CIHT Healthy Transport Award. Their work on this issue not only showcases the importance of UCL research in helping directly mitigate the spread of the virus - saving lives in London and beyond - but also demonstrates the vital role of collaborating beyond our campus to tackle real world challenges. Congratulations to the team.”

Winners were announced during a virtual ceremony on 29 June 2021, attended by groups including industry leaders and shortlisted project teams.

The full winning UCL Team: Professor Nick Tyler, Dr Liora Malki-Epshtein, Professor Thorsten Stoesser, and Dr Lena Ciric (all UCL Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering).

CIHT (The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation) is a chartered professional body for transportation professionals in the UK.



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Jake Hawkes

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