Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more


Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers

Please follow the steps below

The Bay Area Takes the Fight to Elevator Urinators

BART is installing a new kind of anti-pee floor coating, as well as a “bacteria-eating enzyme misting system.”

Like many cities, San Francisco has a public pissing problem, which it’s tried to combat with municipally staffed pop-up toilets, an open-air pissoir in a park, and a sneaky kind of paint that splashes back the streams of free-range urinators.

The battle seems unending, though, with the latest news that the region’s BART system is spending a large chunk of cash to guard its elevators against fluid discharges. The problem is loose liquids can drip into elevator shafts, mucking up the mechanics and prompting pricey repairs. The East Bay Times reports:

BART officials have long been stymied by the odorous problem of people using its elevators as restrooms. Staff have thrown out various solutions to the ongoing issue—including investing in glass elevators to discourage the practice. But one increasingly costly solution—to replace elevator floors with a urine-resistant material—may come as soon as next spring….

The spray-on floors are resistant to scratches, impacts, cracking and wear, BART says, but the design change reduces the number of elevators receiving the new floor from 127 to 80, [BART spokesman Taylor] Huckaby said.

The agency had experimented with aluminum and stainless-steel floors, but dropped them for an epoxy coating for aesthetic reasons and the fact some could dislodge from their moorings. While not specifically mentioning urination, BART has issued a number of recent press releases about elevator repairs—“upgrading the splash guards and flooring in the elevator to prevent liquid from flowing under the floor and to make cleaning the elevator easier,” according to one from last week.

BART has also let it slip it’s installing this thing at a major downtown station, which you better believe CityLab will be looking into:

There’s also an added effort to help keep the elevator shafts clean. BART is prototyping a bacteria-eating enzyme misting system at Civic Center Station in San Francisco. The new system is located inside the elevator shaft and does not interfere with elevator operation. The misting system is set up to activate each hour.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.