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Porcelain New York

Peeing Is Believing: These Renovated MTA Bathrooms Are Spectacular

The restrooms had been closed for nearly three years. They are reborn.

The interior of a gleaming MTA bathroom at Jay Street-MetroTech

Look at this Jay Street-MetroTech bathroom sparkle! (Hell Gate)

On a recent Monday night, 19-year-old Harper Latcholia looked on skeptically as her friend, Tania Fontana, walked into the bathroom at the Union Square subway station.

"I'm a little scared to use them because, come on, it's the subway," Latcholia told Hell Gate.

But this wasn't just any subway bathroom, we reminded her—this one had been renovated and reopened after nearly three years of being locked to the public due to COVID concerns and bureaucratic inertia.

"Holy shit!" Latcholia exclaimed. "I can piss somewhere other than the elevators!"

She quickly added, "Just kidding, I do not piss in the elevators." (As for whether the MTA should be installing "pee-detection" technology in those elevators, as has been previously reported, Latcholia was firm: "Piss detection is the least of their problems. There's delays every single day.")

Union Square restrooms. (Hell Gate)

The MTA unlocked 18 bathrooms across nine subway stations in early January, and we can confirm that they are, in fact, pretty sweet for municipally maintained restrooms.

"I'm pretty happy. It used to be disgusting, and now it's fine," said Dierk, who was rushing to catch the A train at Jay Street-Metrotech. "There are barely any. They're hard to find, and when you have to go, you have to go."

This columnist would go so far as to suggest that these bathrooms are nicer than some of the subway stations themselves. Have you seen the Bowery J stop recently?

Look at this poor Bowery J train station tile! (Hell Gate)
Union Square. Damn! (Hell Gate)

There is still plenty of room for improvement on the MTA restroom front. After all, the agency has a total of 133 public restrooms spread out over their entire system. As it gets tougher to relieve yourself in New York City without buying something or begging a sympathetic store employee, throwing open the doors to this network of restrooms would strike a serious blow for public dignity.

But the MTA told us there's no specific plans to do that in the future. Nor is there any wiggle room on the restrooms' current hours, which are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a cleaning hour closure from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. (The MTA declined to say how much it costs to maintain the bathrooms.)

"Absolutely, it should be open later, maybe until 10," said Brooklynite Tye H., who had just exited the bathroom in Union Square. "Most people get off work around 6 or 7. So if they get on the subway around 8, 9, 10, what do they do?" 

Hopefully, the success of these restrooms will push the agency to do the right thing and reopen more of them (you can add your own nudge here). Peeing is believing.

"When I opened the door, it smelled very heavy on a sweet scent. But it was generally clean," Fontana told her friend, when she exited the bathroom. "It was alright!"

Porcelain New York rating for the subway bathrooms at Union Square and Jay Street-MetroTech: 7.8

To catch the new MTA bathroom experience, catch a train to one of these stations:

  • 161 St–Yankee Stadium 
  • 14 St–Union Sq 
  • East 180 St 
  • 42 St–Bryant Park 
  • Jay St–MetroTech 
  • Kings Highway 
  • Jackson Hts–Roosevelt Av 
  • Forest Hills–71 Av 
  • Fulton St
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