Log in Subscribe

A few of our stories and columns are now in front of the paywall. We at The Chief-Leader remain committed to independent reporting on labor and civil service. It's been our mission since 1897. You can have a hand in ensuring that our reporting remains relevant in the decades to come. Consider supporting The Chief, which you can do for as little as $3.20 a month.

No relief


To the editor:

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine's proposed legislation to increase public citizen access to bathrooms in all five boroughs reminded me of the old subway bathrooms. 

There was a time decades ago when you had to pay 10 cents to relieve yourself.  In those days, subway bathrooms were plentiful and open 24/7. Fast forward to today. According to the MTA website, there are only 58 bathrooms among the subway’s 472 stations. They include seven in the Bronx, 21 in Brooklyn, 21 in Manhattan and nine in Queens. They are open only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and closed between noon and 1 p.m. for cleaning. That means many will relieve themselves elsewhere in the station, in elevators, on platforms, even on stairs. 

There are financial solutions to help the MTA pay for costs. Use some of the $1.8 billion in annual Federal Transit Administration capital grant funding. When these funds are programmed for station rehabilitation projects, include as part of the scope of work repairs to reopen previously closed bathrooms. 

Reopening secure, safe subway station bathrooms with adequate supplies of toilet paper, soap and hot water would help attract one million former pre-COVID-19 riders who have yet to return.

Municipal public officials such as Comptroller Brad Lander can lead by example. 

He could introduce legislation that all city agency buildings and offices provide public bathrooms. Other city, state and federal elected officials could provide public access to bathrooms in their local community district offices. 

The situation for lack of public access to bathrooms continues to be a challenge in many neighborhoods around all five boroughs of NYC. Access to public bathrooms should be a human right.

Larry Penner


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here