Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

More urine detectors coming to MARTA elevators

Tired of the stench of urine in MARTA elevators? You may soon get some, uh, relief.

MARTA is installing urine detection equipment as part of a $149 million effort to rehab its elevators and escalators. The work begins next week and will include graffiti-resistant wall panels and brighter lighting in elevators. It also will include new tread, handrails and mechanical systems for escalators.

But the urine-detectors for elevators may be the most novel change.

Tom Beebe, MARTA’s director of vertical transportation, said urination is a common problem for public transportation systems. He said MARTA is the first agency to try the urine detection technology, though others – including agencies in San Francisco and New York – are watching Atlanta’s effort.

With the new technology, if someone urinates inside an elevator, a strobe light will flash and a siren will sound, Beebe said. The alarm automatically triggers a call to MARTA police.

When the elevator door opens, the elevator will stop and won’t operate again until MARTA employees reset it. A crew will clean, sanitize and deodorize the elevator before putting it back into service.

Beebe said signs will warn people about the urine detectors. The detectors have already been installed on 13 MARTA elevators and eventually will be installed in all of them.

Beebe said MARTA has restrooms at 13 of its 38 stations and plans to add more in the future.

MARTA will overhaul 111 elevators and 116 escalators over the next two years. Next week’s schedule includes:

*Monday: The elevator serving the westbound platform at the West Lake Station.

*Wednesday: The elevator serving the westbound platform at the H.E. Holmes Station.

*June 26: The elevator serving the northbound platform at the West End Station.

*June 26: Two escalators serving the northbound concourse at the Peachtree Center Station near the Baker Street entrance.

For more information, visit www.itsmarta.com.

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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.