VANCOUVER -- A unique pilot program using copper on high-touch transit surfaces to cut down on bacteria and viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic has been so effective that it’s being expanded, according to TransLink.

The five-week pilot program launched in November using two buses and two SkyTrain cars.

High-touch surfaces like poles that are frequently touched by people’s hands were coated in copper, which is considered both durable and effective at killing bacteria.

Samples were collected twice a week and examined by teams at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, and the results are impressive.

“The trial concludes that select copper products on transit are durable and kill up to 99.9 per cent of all bacteria within one hour of the bacteria’s contact with the surface,” TransLink said in a media release Thursday.

TransLink says it was the first transit agency on the continent to test copper on transit surfaces, but also notes the findings and research could inform decision-making around the globe for any industries that rely on shared public spaces.

Several types of copper were used during the first phase of the trial, but the findings indicate copper decals and copper nickel plasma sprays were most effective.

The second phase of the pilot project will test the material on more SkyTrain cars and buses over a longer amount of time to analyze varied conditions. Additional tests will also be done on the products found to be most effective during the first phase.