How Clean Is Your Train? A Guide to Germs on Public Transport

Published July 13th, 2021 by Frenka, LLC

How clean is your train?

You probably travel on public transport every weekday to get to and from work. During that time, you can come into contact with numerous potentially harmful bacteria.

In this short guide, we will look at some of the worst places you can encounter germs on trains, buses, and other forms of public transport.

Is your train really a clean train? Read on to find out.


A 2018 study showed that 33% of people only washed their hands when they deemed it necessary. And of those surveyed, only 2% met the hand washing requirements of the Centre for Control and Prevention (CDC).

So it is safe to say that when you are holding onto handrails on any form of public transport, you are also holding onto other people's germs.

There are lots of different types of germs on public transport, and some can be harmless. However, the more dangerous train bacteria can live between one minute to up to two hours on a handrail.

If the handrail has any kind of texture like a grip, the grime it collects magnifies. If you have to hold a pole, try and make sure you are holding the metallic part.

Better yet, take a look at our range of portable handrail travel gadgets. They will make it possible to hold yourself safely on the handrail without ever having to touch it.


With the handrails being such a potential breeding ground for bacteria, you may think the better option is to take a seat when possible. However, seats could actually be a far worse option, depending on the material.

On public transport, bacteria can survive for longer on any fabric material, like cotton. So if the seats on your train, bus, or taxi are made of fabric, there is a greater chance of there being live bacteria on them.

In fact, research shows that taxi seats are the worst, with bacteria associated with salmonella and e-coli found in large concentrations. Uber seats, though, came out on top with the lowest levels of bacteria detected overall.

Waiting Benches

Usually, waiting benches at bus stops and platforms are not made from any fabric material but plastic, metal, or stone. Therefore they should be safer, right?

The problem with these benches is that they are cleaned much less frequently or, in the case of bus stops, they are not cleaned at all.

They are touched by countless people all day long, and if they are outside, they are subject to contamination from other dirty sources. Bacteria from puddles and sewerage has been found on public benches. These types of bacteria can cause nasty infections if they find their way into an open cut.

Make Your Train A Clean Train

The biggest takeaway is that there is a lot of bacteria everywhere on public transport. Your train is not going to be a clean train. You need to protect yourself as much as you are able by taking precautions.

Wash your hands regularly when traveling, and try to avoid touching your mouth until you can clean them. Stand when possible and be sure to use a travel gadget to save yourself from having to touch the handrails.

If you would like to know more about our range of travel gadgets to keep you safe on your route, take a look at our online store.

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