By Steve Hymon, December 3, 2013
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Motions involving bathrooms at transit stations (or lack thereof), parking at transit stations (or lack thereof) and fares on the Orange Line (or lack of people actually paying for them) have all found their way onto the agenda for the Metro Board of Directors meeting this Thursday.
In particular, the bathroom and parking issues are brought up on a regular basis by readers here and, quite frankly, are also core service issues that most large transit agencies grapple with at some time or another.
Let me be blunt. None of these issues are going to be solved at this Board meeting. As you will see below, each motions call for more study and/or reports from Metro staff. That said, motions are sometimes the beginning of a process.
Obviously the motion is keyed to some specific issues that have arisen near the Orange Line’s Pierce College station. But bathrooms and transit stations have a long, tangled history that is still, of course, being written.
Bathrooms at transit stations are in many cities a thing of the past, mostly for reasons involving maintenance and safety, although some BART and New York Subway stations have restrooms. Here’s an excerpt from a 2010 amNewYork story on bathrooms in the subway system:
Of the open bathrooms, a third were frightening caverns of garbage, urine, standing water or unseemly smells. Odors from the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd. station on the N caused an amNewYork reporter to feel faint during a recent visit.
“They’re pretty disgusting. People are always cleaning themselves in there and doing other stuff,” said Kelvin Pau, 27, a rider using the 168 St. A station, which reeked.
Don’t expect to find toilet paper or soap, as few of the bathrooms had either. And while graffiti has largely been eliminated from subway stations, it lives on in the bathrooms, as many of the walls and stalls were covered in tags.
Keeping the bathrooms tidy and open is a challenge because they are constantly being vandalized or attract “criminal activity,” Seaton said.
Metro has three transit stations with restrooms: Union Station, El Monte Station and Harbor Gateway. The vast majority do not.Restrooms in transit stations is a subject that has been written about a lot. Here’s a good article about the issue from the Atlantic Cities blog. It will be interesting to see how Metro staff responds to this one, as building more restrooms and then maintaining and patrolling them would be a major undertaking.