MTA reopens bathrooms in 9 NYC subway stations for first time since pandemic began


The MTA on Monday reopened 18 bathrooms at nine subway stations after all the system’s restrooms closed during the pandemic due to what officials claimed was a shortage of cleaners.

It’s a fraction of the 133 bathrooms the MTA reports are tucked in subway stations across the city — but marks the first time since March 2020 that riders have a place to relieve themselves without exiting the turnstiles.

Transit officials said they’ve recently hired more cleaners and “took advantage” of the nearly three-year toilet hiatus to make upgrades like automatic faucets, tile grouting and new signs with the hours of operation.

But good luck locating a toilet in the subway stations. There are no way-finding signs in the stations to direct riders towards the loo.

Still, Shlomo Gavriyah, 60, a veteran subway rider, knew where to go at the Jay Street-MetroTech station when he had to go.

“Us old guys don’t want to urinate on the tracks, so it’s good,” he said Monday about the newly reopened toilets.

But Gavriyah worried the conditions in the bathrooms will deteriorate quickly.

“Don’t just open them, monitor them,” said Gavriyah. “Because it’s still a lot of homeless people out and they’ll use the bathrooms and lock themselves in, so people who really need to use them won’t be able to use them.

Coming out of the women’s room at Jay Street-MetroTech, Haby Sylla, 42, found the toilets “very, very clean,” but didn’t think all the toilets at subway stations should reopen.

“I think it’s best to open the ones that have a lot of people around,” Sylla said. “For safety.”

The MTA has also reduced the hours the bathrooms are open. Before the pandemic, the restrooms would close between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Now, they’re only open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m., with a one-hour cleaning break between 12 p.m and 1 p.m.

Rosie Cola, a foreperson at lower Manhattan’s Fulton Street station who is in charge of keeping its bathrooms open, closed the subway toilet right at noon for cleaning.

“I’m very happy that the restrooms are open for the commuters,” said Cola. “They’re being responsible and we’re now cleaning so that it’s germ free. But we don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s a trial today, see how it goes.”

The subways have 133 bathrooms across 69 stations, according to MTA officials. That’s fewer than transit officials reported in 1989, when records obtained by Gothamist show NYC Transit officials listed 210 public toilets at 106 stations.

MTA representatives declined to say when — or if — the remaining bathrooms will open.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber last year flushed cold water on any hopes for more openings.

“We can’t be the bathroom for all of New York,” Lieber said in a September interview.

Bathrooms are open at the following stations:

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


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