Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Urine detection system installed in Atlanta transit station elevator

with one comment

This is not just a problem in transit elevators – but it is certainly the place where I notice it locally. I know Translink is short of cash, but MARTA has decided it is worth US$10,000 per elevator to install a system that detects, deters – and detains – offenders. And, according to the story, it is effective.

The kicker is in the final paragraph

“This week, they also reopened restrooms at four stations, so they hope that will help with the problem.”

There have not been public restrooms at SkyTrain stations since the system opened. Like bus loops, there are toilets, just not for public use. They are for staff, who have keys. But not for the rest of us. I think this is unconscionable in a public system. There are toilets in libraries, swimming pools, in concessions at beaches. We expect to be able to use them them in shopping centres, airports (where they are often overwhelmed and disgusting – yes, I am looking at you, Kansas City International) and of course on longer distance trains and even Greyhound buses. But despite some very long distances that can be travelled on Translink – Aldergrove to Horseshoe Bay for instance – there is no provision en route for a very basic human need. And there should be.

Of course there is a cost to that. It should be included as part of the basic operating cost. There is a lot that goes wrong when transit systems pare expenses – which currently is making journeys even longer and less easy to bear. We should not be made needlessly uncomfortable nor subject to the present levels of public urination. It is not confined to the transit system or its elevators, that is just where it is most apparent. When funding levels are restored, I fervently hope that Translink will follow MARTA’s example and not just install this system but also open public conveniences at every station and transit exchange.

Hat Tip

I first read about this story on an email newsletter called “This is True“. Published weekly by Randy Cassingham it is available as a brief free edition and a much more substantial Premium edition which I now pay for. And of course he asks readers not to cut and paste his content. But thanks to Google I tracked down the same source he used. I suggest you initially try the free version for a few weeks to see if you enjoy his style and humour. It took a while for it to grow on me I will admit, but I now think it well worth paying for.


Written by Stephen Rees

January 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. During open houses about the Evergreen line that will run down the street behind my building, I asked the TransLink staff why they didn’t go in partnership with JC Decaux, a company that has a lot of experience with “urban furniture”, including automated toilets.

    Note that I don’t work for them, nor own shares in their company (I wish!) and that I only name them because I am not familiar with other similar companies.

    Their reply was “we aren’t into toilets”..said with a disinterested look that would have made a dead fish proud….

    Red frog

    January 6, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: