The MTA is finally doing something about those pee-drenched elevators


A trip on an NYC subway elevator can be like a punch in the nose: the sickly stinging scent of urine burns your nostrils before you can turn around and escape through the doors. We’ve all been there.

The subway can be one of the smelliest places in the Big Apple. But the MTA is taking a new step to combat the stinky situation with a new program that will target smelly subway elevators.

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According to Gothamist, the MTA will pilot a urine alert system for subway elevators. Under the program, elevators will be outfitted with a device that can detect the scent of pee. When it does, it’ll email the MTA’s cleaning crew.

“So we probably have the station cleaner, the station management team alerted so we can get in there and clean the elevator as soon as possible, as opposed to waiting for a customer complaint or stumbling upon [human excrement] ourselves,” New York City Transit President Richard Davey told the outlet this week.

What a concept!

Davey said smelling urine isn’t a major complaint the MTA gets…

“But I mean, one incident is too many,” he said. “And so to the extent that we can be proactive and address these kinds of concerns with the technology that proves out, we hope, and can alert us quickly, why not, right?”

Right. If we don’t have to smell pee anymore, we’re on board. It seems the daily cleaning of MTA elevators hasn’t been enough to keep the scent at bay.

Apparently, Atlanta’s MARTA system has been using a similar program for a decade and Boston’s MBTA announced its own pilot program this summer, Gothamist says. The MTA hasn’t chosen a company or product to use for its pilot program yet, but Davey says it will launch sometime in 2023.

Perhaps the reopening of some subway restrooms will curtail riders from taking a leak in the elevators, too. All 163 of them had been shuttered during the pandemic and are only now beginning to open back up. The MTA also announced earlier this year that it is hiring 800 cleaners to help clean up the mess.

Is this the beginning of a cleanlier subway? We’d like to think so and our noses would be so grateful.



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