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Photograph: Courtesy of Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

16 subway bathrooms will reopen to the public by next year

They've been closed since the start of the pandemic.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Nearly three years after shutting down subway station bathrooms because of pandemic-related concerns, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced its decision to open the stalls once again.

As first reported by Streets Blog, the agency will re-open a total of 16 underground facilities across eight different stations. These include stops at 161st Street-Yankee Stadium (B/D/4), 14th Street-Union Square (L/N/Q/R/W/4/5/6), Jay Street-MetroTech (A/C/F), Flushing-Main Street (7), Fulton Street (A/C/J/R/Z/2/3/4/5) and three other yet-to-be-named stations.

Speaking with the outlet, New York City Transit president Richard Davey also revealed that the MTA will continue opening additional amenities through the help of 800 newly-hired cleaners. 

Discussions regarding the unlocking of station bathrooms have been going on for a while, especially since the MTA opened up restrooms at commuter rail hubs including Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal a year ago. In addition to staff shortages, officials have been mentioning concerns over illegal drug use, homeless abuse and vandalism as reasons to stall the unlocking of the facilities.

The latter issues will be addressed at the re-opened bathrooms by shutting them for hour-long stretches throughout each day so that employees could properly clean them. Stations with properly operating facilities will also now employ unarmed security guards that will prevent illegal activity from taking place inside.

"It won't be an unfettered ability for someone to spend hours and hours in the bathroom," Davey said to Gothamist. "You typically see that in other transit facilities, airports for example, that might close bathrooms for a short period of time."

In total, there are 163 public toilets at subway stations all across New York. Despite the pretty notable number of stalls re-opening to the public, we're clearly still far from the way things were.

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