People in Canada have become used to the fact that a lot of our public realm often does not include a washroom. Price Tags Vancouver is using the Canadian term for that room that includes a toilet and a sink. This room is called a “rest room” in the United States, but it serves the same purpose-it’s a place that all humans need to use, and use more frequently as humans get older. So why have we not been installing these necessary facilities, especially near our rapid transit or heavily used bus corridors, especially for an aging population that relies on transit as a major mode of transportation?
Kudos to the City of Vancouver’s Seniors Advisory Committee who are pushing for TransLink to install accessible public washrooms in all new stations, and in the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. As Glenda Luymes outlined in the Vancouver Sun the lack of washrooms even drew the ire of the Raging Grannies who were in town to protest something else a few years back, but developed a special song about the lack of rapid transit washroom services. They sang that song in front of Waterfront Station.
Seniors’ Advisory Committee Chair Colleen McGuiness stated “It’s beyond short-sighted not to put them in. Loneliness and isolation are a concern for seniors, and a lack of public washrooms on transit routes is a factor in that.”
Oddly enough the renovated SkyTrain stations on the Expo line have space and are prepped with plumbing for washrooms, but TransLink won’t be reporting on washroom availability until next year. Issues will include the cost of maintenance, security, and sanitation. But if Edmonton, Toronto and Paris can provide washroom facilities at some stations, surely Vancouver can as well. You can take a look at this older copy of The Buzzer that provides a chart of which transit systems have washrooms. This TransLink newsletter from 2011 also asks “I’m curious what Buzzer readers think about the issue. Is adding more washrooms to the system important to you? If so, how do you think they should be implemented, and by whom?”