Public Toilets Continue to Foil New York City’s Bureaucracy

In 2006, New York City signed contracts for private-public partnerships that would deliver a variety of street furniture throughout the city. To date, 3,355 bus shelters, 304 newsstands, and three (3) public toilets have been built.

1 minute read

March 13, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Sam Roberts reports on the slow pace at which a Spanish company called Cemusa, working with the Department of Transportation, has been able to site and install public toilets in New York City.

Here is what has sufficed for progress so far: “The first toilet was installed in Madison Square Park early in 2008, followed by one in Corona, Queens, later that year. The third was placed in Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, in 2011.”

“If installation continues at this rate, the 20 automatic toilets for which the city sought bids fully a decade ago will be functioning by about 2065. Of course, even 20 toilets, for a city that swells to nearly 10 million with commuters on a typical weekday, would mean one such facility would serve nearly 500,000 people,” writes Roberts.

As for why it’s been so difficult to install public toilets, despite popular demand: “a number of neighborhoods have responded to the toilets with a not-in-my-backyard indifference, at best,” and “no lavatory lobby has ever materialized.”

Some in New York expected these problems from the outset, and other cities have also found public toilet programs difficult to implement and expensive, at best.

Sunday, March 9, 2014 in New York Times - City Room Blog

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