BART made a big stink over its new all-gender, shiny new bathrooms at Powell Street stations, in a grand opening celebration complete with a toilet paper-cutting ceremony.
BART has been trying to tinkle around with reopening the bathrooms at its underground stations since at least 2016, but they’ve had to hold it for a number of years. As BART explains, “After the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security ordered BART to shut down underground restrooms as they saw it as a security risk. The recommendation from DHS stayed in place for many years.” Even once they got permission to let it rip, they found the facilities “needed ADA compliance, entirely new plumbing and ventilation, removing hazardous materials installed in the 1970s, etc.” As such, ten BART stations have not had bathrooms for about 20 years.
But the first of those reopened bathrooms is good to go. They promised us last week that the Powell Street bathroom would reopen February 2, and on Wednesday, they reopened that bathroom with the great fanfare of a press conference.
We are celebrating 2/2/22 with a ribbon cutting of a toilet. #2 pic.twitter.com/pbxgNw5BNF— SFBART (@SFBART) February 2, 2022
Was BART making a Number Two joke by opening these on 2/2/22? They were, and we’re mad they beat us to it. Of course, BART is taking a lot of shit on Twitter over announcing this via a press conference, which involved a toilet paper-cutting ceremony, and drew the likes of State Senator Scott Wiener.
We opened the new public restroom at Powell Street BART. Other stations to follow.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) February 2, 2022
We even cut a toilet paper ribbon!
Opening a restroom may not seem a big deal, but it is. BART shut down restrooms after 9/11 & never reopened.
Thank you @SFBART @BevanDufty for your leadership! pic.twitter.com/c7UkkGeq2e
Per BART’s own description, these are "All-gender restrooms” with “bright LED lights” and “no main door but with stalls” just like at SFO. They also say they'll have “full-time attendants at the Powell restroom to provide staff presence,” though that is only a short-term pilot program.
You can take a little tour above, courtesy SFBay.
And what the deuce, that’s blogger Michael Petrelis there for the bathroom opening! It almost seems like a homage to the SFist comments section from back in 2012, after Petrelis was busted photographing then-supervisor Scott Wiener in a public washroom. We thought those jokes would never get old! (They did.) But if Wiener and Petrelis have since mended fences and are now doing bathroom grand opening promotions together, well, that is just hilarious.
There are more bathroom openings to come, probably with less fanfare. Oakland’s 19th Street station gets its john on this coming February 25, and others will be staggered, until the 24th Street station opens it bathrooms in (sigh) 2026.
Image: @sfbart via Twitter