In a recent city council transportation meeting held on Monday, December 12, MTA officials shared a new pilot effort that could rid the subway system of a primary odor: pee.
The meeting was held to discuss subway safety in conjunction with the NYPD when MTA New York City Transit President Rich Davey announced the possible implementation of pee detection technology as a response to a question commenting on the stenches in the MTA elevators.
“We are actually going to be piloting a device that will alert — I won’t tell you what the smell is — but it will alert our cleaners about potential lack of cleanliness in elevators.”
If action were taken, NYC would be following in the footsteps of cities like Atlanta and Boston (where Davey used to be the general manager of the MBTA and Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation) that have already installed or are in the process of installing urine detectors in transit station elevators, first reported THE CITY.
It doesn’t help that the 133 restrooms across NYC stations have been closed since March 2020. However, the MTA is expected to reopen some of the subway station bathrooms early in the new year.
Policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, Jacquelyn Simone said, “Every day that goes by without access to these facilities is another day that people are forced to sacrifice their dignity or risk their health.” And that sacrifice tends to be in one of the 353 elevators across NYC’s subway stations.
“If any one person uses an elevator in that regard, that’s awful,” he said. “It’s awful for our customers who choose to use the elevator, it’s awful for our customers who have to use an elevator,” said Davey.
A spokesperson of the MTA shared that the elevators have at least one scheduled cleaning per day. However, the new pilot, set to possibly launch in 2023, could improve the overall hygiene and safety of these elevators.
Other recent subway safety measures include the installation of surveillance cameras throughout all subway cars.
Stay up to date on the latest announcements on the MTA’s website here.