Boston Transit Agency trials urine sensors in elevators

No more urine problems, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority hopes, with a new program to combat public urination in system elevators with technology.

The MBTA, which serves Boston and the surrounding area, is launching a pilot program this summer in which urine detection sensors will be placed in four downtown elevators. The sensors alert transit ambassadors, who can dispatch a cleanup crew, the Boston Herald reported.

Sensors on the ceiling of an elevator are fitted with a fan, allowing them to suck in air and “essentially sense what’s there”, said Meghan Collins, Program/Projects Manager for MBTA.

The pilot starts in August. The data will be collected for several months before the agency decides to implement the program by the end of the year, the newspaper said.

It’s not a new concept.

Nearly a decade ago, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority started a pilot program which, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, triggered strobe lights, alarms and MARTA police alerts when urine was detected in an elevator. The elevators were then inoperative until cleaning. This program, considered a success, was eventually expanded.

The MBTA hopes the program will help alleviate problems: Public urination is not only unsanitary, but can also damage elevators, Collins said.

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