New York is not alone in the world when it comes to the use of public spaces such as subway elevators and stairways used as urinals, creating a stench made even worse in the hot summer months or in warmer southern climates. New Yorkers would like to see an end to this public nuisance, but stopping the crime before it’s committed, or discovering the culprit after the fact, has been a problem whose solution has historically eluded law enforcement- until now.
New York officials are considering a program which under consideration already Atlanta. MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has developed a plan to end public peeing utilizing better lighting, cameras and sensors which detect the splash of urine and notify policy immediately. If the officer is fast enough the hope is he will be able to arrive at the scene of the crime in time to arrest the pisher.
Atlanta hopes to install this system in 111 subway elevators where the problem is especially acute, at a cost of approximately $1 million. Keith Parker, CEO of Marta explained to a group at a “State of MARTA” event held in December how a trial of the sensors in one elevator fared.
Parker said that in one successful instance of the use of the sensor apparatus the police were able to catch the culprit “quite literally, with his pants down.”
Unfortunately, however, that one arrest was sui generis during the month-long trial. Hopefully, on the other hand, there was only one arrest because the frequency of violations went way down due to all the warning signs which go hand in hand with the detectors.
New York Transit Authority officials will be watching the Atlanta experiment closely to see if such a program can help the City fight this small crime which has big consequences. Atlanta is hoping that if public urination was controlled more people would use public transit there.
Certainly in New York reducing that pungent odor found in public spaces will lift the experience of living in New York out of the subway tunnels and into the light.