The Bulletin

Atlanta fights subway's urine smell with sensors

Posting in Technology

There are plenty of ideas out there for improving public transit: countdown clocks, free fare, sanitation

Some of you have indicated that subway stations free of the smell of urine would be the ideal fix. And for good reason

In Atlanta, they agree.  

Elevators at Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) subway stations are notorious for their urine smell. So last year the transit authority came up with a plan to eliminate it: sensors. 

In a pilot program, select elevators were equipped with urine detection devices with 10 small sensors attached to the base of each elevator. If the sensors detects urine, an alarm sounds and transit police are notified. So what impact have the sensors made? According to American City & County

What has been almost a daily problem dropped to one reported infraction during the one-month testing program. An arrest was made in that incident. Warning signs ... that accompany the detector may have helped deter potential violators during the pilot program.
At $10,000 a piece, the devices can be added to all of the agency's 111 elevators (the stated goal) for more than $1 million. But the investment isn't just to ease the nostrils. While riders generally put up with smelly subways stations, subway station aesthetics have been shown to have a positive impact on ridership. A decent smelling station is a good start.    

Photo: Flickr/Jon Skilling

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— By on February 19, 2014, 1:40 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure