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flying by the seat of the bowl

By enelson
Thursday, December 7th, 2006 at 6:07 pm in air travel.

low-flow-toilet-dnr-metrokc-gov.jpgOakland International Airport just issued a press release that’s just too good to waste:

Customer surveys and analysis of passenger concerns show that OAK passengers rank the condition and quality of public restrooms high on their list of essential terminal facilities. Travelers want restroom facilities that offer:

1) More stalls;

2) Larger stalls roomy enough for a traveler and his/her carry-on luggage or a young child;

3) Ergonomic layout for improved circulation; and

4) Hands-free fixtures and entrances/exits for increased hygiene.

So, at its Tuesday meeting,

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners adopted a resolution allowing Oakland International Airport (OAK) to move forward with significant improvements to Terminal 1 public restrooms …. In response to customer feedback, OAK will immediately begin a phased two-year renovation and expansion of older Terminal 1 restrooms with improvements first available to travelers by summer 2007.

Hear that, BART? If the most security-conscious mode of transportation in this nation can splurge on its potties, the least you could do is keep them open and clean.

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8 Responses to “flying by the seat of the bowl”

  1. Roy Nakadegawa P.E. Says:

    Comment on
    Public transit putting on the brakes on car culture Transit moving into the fast lane
    By Erik N. Nelson, STAFF WRITER
    Article Last Updated:12/08/2006 02:04:29 PM PST

    I would not attribute the “Transit Record ridership could be attributed to aging baby boomers driving less” as mentioned in your sub-title but the simple fact in what you also quoted of my friend Pisarski that car ownership is increasing. Meaning more cars are in use and congestion is rising. Also our economy is improving and along with congestion, they both have a greater bearing on transit use than on miles driven.

    Roy Nakadegawa P.E.
    Fromer BART & AC Transit Board Member of 32 years
    And worked with Pisarski on a review Board overseeing a Transit Reseach Report

  2. Mike Says:

    I hate the fact that BART has so many closed restrooms “for security.” When I take transit all the way between work and home, it takes over 2 hours. I can’t always go 2 hours without using the restroom and I can’t always find one outside the station, either.

  3. Capricious Commuter Says:

    Mike, your complaint reminds me of another reason why I like commuter trains (as opposed to subway-type rail like BART. They have bathrooms onboard, along with many other ameneties. Unfortunately, you can’t take Caltrain or ACE everywhere, and they don’t run often enough. I would certainly like to revisit the BART policy to see exactly why closing the bathrooms is so vital to security. If there’s a convincing argument, I’ll shut up. Maybe.

  4. Michael Krueger Says:

    I strongly suspect that the real reason for closing the johns is to save money on maintenance. Given the way those bathrooms are abused, it must cost a fortune to clean them. The “security” excuse just offers some convenient political cover for an unpopular cost-saving measure . . . after all, who dares to question the need for security? Invoking the frightening spectre of terrorism is a great way to make riders’ legitimate concerns about comfort and convenience in stations seem trivial by comparison.

    As for the comment about the comfort of commuter trains versus BART, this is just one of the the many reasons why people in the Bay Area — everyone from the very top of the political establishment down to the masses of daily-grind commuters — need to get over their obsession with bank-busting multi-billion-dollar BART extensions and seriously consider the benefits of filling those transit needs through expanded and improved commuter rail.

    Technologically, BART is a heavy metro . . . and a relatively inefficient and expensive one at that. If it makes sense to expand the system at all, it should only be within the densest urban cores, not in relatively sparsely populated areas like Tracy or even much of San Jose.

    Conventional rail commuter trains like Caltrain hold much more potential for far less cost. Expansions can start out cheaply with diesel-powered vehicles running on existing tracks and can be later upgraded with electrification and tunneling into urban core areas. The Paris RER (Réseau Express Régional, “Regional Express Network”) is an excellent example of a fully electrified system with service linking far-flung suburbs directly to underground stations in the urban core. I don’t recall whether the trains have on-board restrooms, but the cars I rode were similar to Caltrain’s double-deckers (except that the ride was considerably quieter and smoother), so there would definitely be space for such amenities if there was a desire to provide them.

    For an in-depth exploration of what could be possible if we dared to think beyond BART, please read the San Jose/South Bay Rail Expansion Alternatives page on the San Francisco Cityscape Web site. In short, such a system would be faster, more useful, more comfortable, and much, much less expensive than BART.

  5. david vartanoff Says:

    IMHO BART has used “security” as an excuse to shut bathrooms it found inconvenient to operate–24th thru Embarcadero and Balboa Pk. Glen Pk is open, as are AFAIK all East Bay elevated stations.

  6. Mike Says:

    I agree that BART is using security as an excuse. I bet many of the closed restrooms have lots of problems with homeless people and vadalism.

    Aren’t the restrooms on Caltrain a security risk? Someone could stash explosives in there and get off at the next stop. Yet Caltrain keeps them open and also keeps the restroom at the very busy 4th & King station open. On the other hand, many Caltrain stations have absolutely no restroom facilities. Many stations are just two platforms with ticket machines and a parking lot.

    I have been watching the Bay Rail Alliance, which supports a Caltrain like extension to cover the gap in BART service between Fremont and San Jose and provide some rail service to the 237/North San Jose area. It is much cheaper than BART.

    BART is a politician’s ribbon-cutting dream, but would consume way too many tax dollars.

  7. Sean Says:

    JM2C, but BART bathrooms are closed for security reasons at underground locations only.

  8. david vartanoff Says:

    Only partially true. Balboa Pk is essentially a shed against the hill yet the toilets are closed even though fare control level is open on one side

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