The Powell Street BART station will have working bathrooms again on February 2, Oakland’s 19th Street will get them on February 25, and eventually, you’ll be able to relieve yourself at pretty much every station on the line.

The byzantine calculus of which BART stations have working bathrooms, and which do not, has always been confusing. Some of the sketchiest stations on the BART seem to have working bathrooms all the time, other stations in upscale neighborhoods have no available bathrooms. The restroom restrictions of COVID-19 have made the issue even more maddening and inconsistent.

Time for some answers. BART will begin reopening long-shuttered bathrooms at Powell Street station on Wednesday, February 2, then at 19th Street Oakland on Friday, February 25, and eventually, all shuttered bathrooms will be renovated and reopened.

After Thursday morning’s BART board of directors meeting, board president Rececca Saltzman tweeted “BART will start reopening underground restrooms next week, with Powell opening next Wednesday, February 2 and 19th Street opening February 25.”

The reason for these BART bathroom closures, very oddly, is the September 11 attacks of (checks notes) more than 20 years ago. As the Chronicle reported when the idea was introduced last October, “Ten restrooms at underground stations in the BART system have been closed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the recommendation of federal transit and security officials. Restrooms in underground stations that shared ventilation systems with subway platforms were considered at elevated risk of terrorist attacks.”


As seen above, there are nearly a dozen BART stations with still-closed bathrooms (these are marked in gold or blue). And the reopening process will be quite constipated. The only stations whose bathrooms have reopening dates thus far are the above-mentioned Powell and 19th Street stations, though the Lake Merritt and Montgomery Street station bathrooms are expected to reopen, renovated and all, later in 2022. Embarcadero and Downtown Berkeley BART bathrooms are scheduled to reopen in 2023.


But as we see from the timeline above, the 24th Street BART station bathrooms won’t reopen until 2026. Why does that station have to hold it for so long? According to Saltzman, “New restrooms need to be designed and built. Current restrooms have major ADA problems, and they're directly next to fare gates, a problem as ridership returns.”

Related: BART to Reopen Bathrooms, Modernize Stations at Powell Street and 19th Street In Oakland [SFist]