There will be more bathrooms for transit passengers on Metro Vancouver's public transportation system, but the precise plan still needs to be determined.
Today, TransLink's Board of Directors approved a recommendation from the team to create an implementation strategy to provide toilet facilities in the long-term system.
The preferred method is to provide bathroom facilities in partnership with third parties to maximize customer experience and maximize safety while minimizing costs and risks.
But the introduction of toilet facilities will be limited to SkyTrain stations which have a significant number of passengers and are also an important point of transfer or connection, as well as facilities that see large numbers of passengers traveling through long transit times .
Another consideration will be the development of a network of "relatively uniformly spaced bathrooms" in terms of travel time in the system.
There are some options for providing sanitary facilities for transit passengers, and this will likely be implemented on a location-to-location basis.
Underutilized spaces on the transit property, such as an empty retail space within a SkyTrain station, could be turned into a bathroom facility. In some cases, a handful of SkyTrain stations already have provisions for installing toilets should a decision be made in the future to provide toilets for passengers.
Opportunities also exist to include toilets as part of modernization projects for comprehensive stations or the construction of new infrastructures such as the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.
Alternatively, the public transport authority could partner with developers, municipalities or private commercial entities to provide access to a bathroom facility adjacent to a transit center.
Most of the cost of providing passenger restrooms is not with the initial cost of capital but rather with the high cost of operations and maintenance over the lifetime of the facility.
With today's approval, the team will return to the Board of Directors in 2019 with an implementation plan that includes detailed options for an approach, budget, and schedule.
According to TransLink's research, public transportation authorities in Toronto, Boston and Edmonton provide toilets for customers, and use a mixed approach of implementation and operations. Other major agencies in Washington DC, Los Angeles and Chicago do not provide facilities.
A survey conducted by the public transport authority earlier this year noted that 72% of respondents indicated that health facilities would improve the transit experience, and more than 20% of responding traffic users said they adjusted their travel behavior by at least one once a week due to the lack of bathrooms.
Approximately a quarter of respondents said they would use the transportation system more often if toilets were more widely available.
Currently, TransLink only provides toilet facilities within the paid fare zones at SeaBus terminals and West Coast Express trains.