A major health concern for public transit users is exposure to viruses from other passengers. This numerical study examines virus containment aboard a public bus with changes to the bus ventilation system. The virus was modeled as a 2.5 µm round solid particle released from the mouth of the infectious passenger at a rate of 21 particles per second at a mouth velocity of 0.278 m/sec. The air delivery to the cabin was two linear ceiling slots spanning the length of the bus delivering 59.38 m3/min (2,097 CFM) of air at a mean velocity of 1 m/sec. Two different axial and vertical linear exhaust slots placed on the side walls were investigated to examine how they affected virus containment and spread to the other parts of the cabin. Simulations were performed for both cases of the bus in transit and at the bus stop when the drop-off door was opened. Results indicate during transit that virus spread was contained to passengers sitting immediately in front of and behind the infectious passenger and the level of virus concentration could merit an increased risk of infection with increased virus residence time. However, augmented air mixing was observed between inside and outside air during the passenger drop-off with viruses spread to the front and back of the bus with reduced concentration and risk of infection. Analytical analyses of the risk of infection using the Wells-Riley equation were performed for the bus ventilation using 100% recirculating air without filtration, and 50% and 100% fresh air ventilation. Results indicate a high risk of infection when recirculating air is used, but the risk is reduced significantly with 50% and 100% fresh air ventilation. These results are critical to informing bus manufacturers, transit agencies, planners, and public transportation users about the potential of virus containment using a new ventilation system.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Technology, Planning and Policy

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



virus, infection, bus, virus transmission


Public Health | Transportation Engineering | Virus Diseases