START windows

Masked riders board a START bus at Teton Village. START says it has determined the optimal configuration of open and closed windows to maximize airflow through its buses as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

After an experiment, START officials say the best way to move air through buses is by closing side windows and opening the driver’s window and a hatch in the rear.

Health officials originally recommended that START open all bus windows as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. But riders, especially on commuter lines, froze. So START spent an afternoon driving around, filling buses with smoke, and cracking various windows and hatches to see what worked best to clear the haze. The driver’s side-rear hatch combo proved superior.

“That, with the air filtration we already have on the buses, was the best,” START Director Darren Brugmann said Monday. “We saw the smoke clearly exiting out the rear hatch, and it was a very good flow of air.”

Opening all the windows proved to be ineffective.

“We quickly discovered that smoke literally just stayed in the bus,” Brugmann said. “It was trapped in the middle of the bus and did not move out of the windows or anything.”

Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond spoke favorably of START’s experiment after the town and county voted to increase bus capacity. From a distancing standpoint, she said, allowing a few more people on board was “essentially the same.”

“You can’t maintain 6 feet of distance,” Pond continued, “but you can increase the air circulation. You can make sure everybody wears a mask.”

Brugmann on Monday suggested that riders avoid opening or closing windows on buses. He also said START has upgraded their buses’ air filters.

“Bottom line,” he said, “we’re doing everything we can that we feel is the best for air filtration on the buses, and we feel pretty comfortable where we’re sitting.”

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

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