Could BART Finally Reopen Its Bathrooms At Underground Stations?

OAKLAND (KCBS) – Anyone who uses Bay Area Rapid Transit to commute has probably had to use the bathroom before getting on their train, and not been able to at an underground station.

But now, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, BART is considering reopening the restrooms at 10 stations where they remain locked.

BART closed all of its station bathrooms following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The transit agency eventually reopened bathrooms at all but the underground stations [Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, 16th Street and 24th Street in San Francisco, Lake Merritt, 12th Street and 19th Street in Oakland and the Downtown Berkeley station].

“They eventually opened the above-ground station bathrooms because the feeling was, that underground was really where you could cause terror because people were in those tunnels,” Phil Matier told the KCBS Morning Crew. “Meanwhile there was a subtext going on because during the time they closed them. We also had budget cuts, so it saved money by not having janitorial staff work on them. Plus, nobody really talked about it, but that was the time the homeless started moving from the streets down into the BART stations and sort of using them as their own hotels and shelters.”

BART is currently studying the viability of opening the restrooms, but they would likely have to be remodeled. The transit agency is considering restrooms that are more open and easier to monitor. And the cost?

“When you look at the cost of reopening the bathrooms, they’re talking between $100,000 and $500,000 each. And then to maintain them, they’re also talking about $900,000 a year. So if and when they do reopen them, they should be shiny new examples, well-maintained, well-kept for and you would want to go there,” Matier said.

The issue is expected to be discussed at a board meeting in Oakland Thursday night.

More from Phil Matier
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