MTA explores urine detection technology to detect urine-soaked elevators

It is the MTA’s “Number 1” priority.

Urine detection technology could be making its way into the yellow-soaked elevators of the Big Apple’s vast subway system, a senior transit official has said.

“We’re actually going to be testing a device that will alert — I won’t tell you what the smell is — but it will alert our cleaners to a possible lack of cleanliness in elevators,” said Rich Davey, president of the MTA New York City Transit , told City Council members on Monday.

Davey’s testimony came in response to a question about the unsavory stench that straphangers often encounter when they board transit elevators.

The MTA has 353 elevators throughout the subway system, although the vast majority of stations have none.

New York wouldn’t be the first mass transit system to try to spot subway piss puddles before they ruin someone’s day, Davey said.

Mezzanine level of the subway station of the new 2nd Avenue subway line
The MTA has 353 elevators.
UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
A New York subway elevator
Most subway stations don’t have elevators at all, but those that do are often plagued by the stench of human liquid products of destruction.
Stephen Yang

Subway agencies in Atlanta and Davey’s hometown of Boston have also been testing the technology, according to nonprofit news outlet The City.

Subway toilets have been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. MTA officials recently announced plans to reopen facilities at nine stations beginning in January.

According to MTA statistics, most subway elevators are pee-free and operational.

“I can tell you that 97.98% of our elevators have been up for the last few months,” Davey told councillors. MTA explores urine detection technology to detect urine-soaked elevators


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