MBTA plans to clean soiled elevators with new program

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Sometimes you just can’t hold it.

The MBTA says its elevator ride times are “excellent,” but still has a prickly problem: passengers peeing inside elevators, instead of waiting for a bathroom.

“In general, the availability of our elevators is excellent, but we still get a lot of complaints about how comfortable passengers are using them, and a pretty big contributing factor is that people sometimes use the elevators as restrooms,” said Meghan Collins. , MBTA Program/Project Manager, Accessible Technology.

To address this issue, Collins said the T plans to pilot a new program in mid-August, which would place urine detection sensors in four downtown elevators: Chinatown, Broadway, Charles MGH and North Station.

Elevators were selected based on how often people peed in the cabins, the different cabin sizes and the different environments they were in, to see how well the sensors performed. For example, detection may be different in elevators located in enclosed spaces compared to those exposed at street level and outside air, Collins said.

“Data will be collected from sensors, transit ambassadors and cleaners to measure sensor effectiveness,” she said. “At the moment it only really detects urine, so that’s what we’re going to focus on right now.”

After the launch of the pilot, the T will collect data for about three months until mid-November and decide to implement the program by the end of the year.

The pilot project was announced at a semi-annual meeting where the MBTA provided an update on plans to make the system more accessible to people with disabilities.

The sensors are attached to the ceiling of an elevator and are fitted with a fan, allowing the device to suck in air and “essentially sense what’s there,” Collins said.

They’re connected to a mobile device, so when urine is detected, Transit Ambassadors receive a notification and can dispatch a cleanup team to handle the mess, she said.

“We want to make sure our passengers feel comfortable in the elevators and that in some cases when people use the elevator as a restroom it can damage the elevator and make it unsanitary,” Collins said. “These can also pose security risks and it can also render it unusable, so we really want to see if it can work for us.”

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