Log in
Dry Cleaners London | Free Pickup & Delivery | ZipJet Dry Cleaners London | Free Pickup & Delivery | ZipJet

 
Dirty Cities Index How Clean Is Your Commute?

German English French

At Zipjet, we make it easy for commuters to stay clean and look smart. To get around any city, we inevitably end up navigating grubby public transport networks, which are known to harbour potentially harmful microorganisms. Although a lot of these agents are usually harmless to those with healthy immune systems, they can have a negative effect on vulnerable members of society. We selected three of Europe's largest cities, London, Paris and Berlin, to investigate and discover which types of public transport pose the biggest threat to the health and cleanliness of its residents.

To identity the worst offending commute, we took swabs of locations where our clothes frequently come into contact with spaces shared with others - the seat of the underground, the bus, a taxi and Uber, as well as seating in the central station of each city. We then sent these samples to Limbach Analytics GmbH Labor Mannheim science lab for analysis.

The results show that all our cities are dirty - often with striking similarities. In London and Berlin, for example, taxi seats were found to have the highest density of bacteria, whilst in Paris, benches in the station were dirtiest. All, however, were found to be contaminated with bacteria typically found in the human gut or faeces. Gross!

“You can easily stay clean and healthy when using public transport,” said Constanze Wendt, Specialist in Hygiene and Microbiology at Limbach Analytics GmbH. “After travelling, you can avoid contamination simply by washing your hands and washing clothes thoroughly once a week to avoid a buildup of bacteria.”

Bacteria Legend
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod Originates in Stagnant water e.g puddles, sewage, pipes. Can Cause Ear infections (from swimming), pnumonia (from infected mechanical ventilation).
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci Originates in Human and animal faeces, and the gut. Can Cause Gasterointestinal infections, food posioning, UTIs.
E-coli, Salmonella and Shigella are part of this group.
Spore forming gram positive rods Originates in Dust and soil. Can Cause Food poisoning if coming into contact with food (e.g fried rice).
Streptococcus Originates in Saliva and mouth cells from humans and animals. Can Cause May cause endocarditis, a potentially fatal infection of the heart, but only in those with pre-existing conditions.
Various Originates in The natural skin flora of humans and animals. Can Cause Mostly harmless to healthy people and are generally found where there are people or animals.
L Overall Low Incidence of Bacteria M Overall Medium Incidence of Bacteria H Overall High Incidence of Bacteria
Overview
Berlin
Size 891.7km²
Population 3,520,031
Daily Users of Public Transport 563,204
London
Size 1,572km²
Population 8,673,713
Daily Users of Public Transport 3,061,820
Paris
Size 105.4km²
Population 2,229,621
Daily Users of Public Transport 450,383
Train Stations
M
Alexanderplatz S-Bahn Station
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Spore forming gram positive rods
Streptococcus
Various
M
London Victoria
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Spore forming gram positive rods
Various
H
Gare du nord
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Streptococcus
Subway
L
U-Bahn
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Various
M
Underground
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
M
Metro
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Streptococcus
Various
Buses
L
Bus
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
L
Bus
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Spore forming gram positive rods
L
Bus
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Spore forming gram positive rods
Various
Taxis
H
Taxi
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Various
H
London Black Cab
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Spore forming gram positive rods
Streptococcus
M
Taxi
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Spore forming gram positive rods
Streptococcus
Uber / Tram
H
Tram
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
Various
L
Uber
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Spore forming gram positive rods
M
Uber
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Enterobacteriaceae and enterococci
List of Bacteria Found
Berlin
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain I Station Bench, Bus Seat, Tram
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain II Station Bench, Bus Seat, Tram Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain III Bus Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod without differentiation
Enterobacteriaceae U-Bahn, Berlin Taxi
Enterobacteriaceae strain I Tram
Enterobacteriaceae Strain II Tram
Enterobacteriaceae Strain III
Enterobacteriaceae Strain IV
Enterococcus Taxi
Spore forming gram positive rods Station Bench
Bacillus cereus
Viridans streptococci Station Bench
Non haemolytic streptococcus
Coagulase-negative staphylococci Station Bench, U-Bahn, Taxi Seat, Tram Seat
Micrococcus species U-Bahn, Taxi Seat, Tram Seat
Corynebacterium species Taxi Seat
London
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod Underground Seat, Bus Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain I Station Bench Seat, Taxi Seat, Uber
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain II Taxi seat, Uber Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain III Taxi seat, Uber Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod without differentiation
Enterobacteriaceae Bus Seat, Taxi seat
Enterobacteriaceae strain I Underground Seat
Enterobacteriaceae Strain II Underground Seat
Enterobacteriaceae Strain III
Enterobacteriaceae Strain IV
Enterococcus
Spore forming gram positive rods Station Bench, Bus Seat, Taxi Seat
Bacillus cereus Station Bench
Viridans streptococci London Taxi
Non haemolytic streptococcus
Coagulase-negative staphylococci
Micrococcus species
Corynebacterium species Station Bench
Paris
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod Metro Seat, Bus Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain I Taxi Seat, Uber Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain II Taxi Seat, Uber Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod strain III Uber Seat
Non-fermenting gramnegative rod without differentiation Station Bench
Enterobacteriaceae Taxi Seat
Enterobacteriaceae strain I Station Bench
Enterobacteriaceae Strain II Station Bench
Enterobacteriaceae Strain III Station Bench
Enterobacteriaceae Strain IV Station Bench
Enterococcus Station Bench, Taxi, Uber
Spore forming gram positive rods Bus Seat, Taxi Seat
Bacillus cereus
Viridans streptococci Metro Seat, Taxi Seat
Non haemolytic streptococcus Station Bench
Coagulase-negative staphylococci Metro Seat, Taxi Seat
Micrococcus species Metro Seat
Corynebacterium species

Rankings were based 0-5 of presence of bacteria as revealed by the lab results. We have presented the information as follows:

  • 0 - not detected
    |
  • 1 - low
    |
  • 2-3 - medium
    |
  • 4 - high
    |
  • 5 - very high
    |
 

NB: Very high colonies of bacteria of any kind were not detected in our study

Bacteria density ratings for each location are created by calculating the frequency of numerous bacteria within each family group. This may mean that although a bacteria family group have a High presence overall in a location, the presence of bacteria at large in this location may not be as High due to varying numbers of bacteria in each family group. For a .pdf of original results please contact [email protected].

Nearly all the microorganisms detected in this study may cause infection under special circumstances.
Firstly, if there is a way for the bacteria to circumvent the physiological barriers of the human, for example the skin..
Or secondly, if the person that is affected is immunocompromised and cannot eliminate the organism with their immune system.
Some of the organisms found, suggest fecal contamination. This can be an indicator for other more pathogenic organisms like viruses, which cannot be detected in these tests.

Therefore, we suggest you take these basic precautions after using public transportation:

  • 1
    Wash your hands regularly after using public transport, especially before eating
  • 2
    Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when sneezing
  • 3
    Wash your hands after touching animals
  • 4
    Clean work surfaces, such as your office desk, regularly
  • 5
    Keep clothes clean by washing at 30-60 degrees