BART to reopen long-closed restrooms at two of the system’s busiest stations

10.26.21

BART to reopen long-closed restrooms at two of the system’s busiest stations

BART is poised to reopen restrooms that have been closed for 20 years at some of the system’s busiest stations. The BART Board this Thursday, October 28 at the request of Vice President Rebecca Saltzman will get an update on the status of improvements to these closed restrooms and the plan from General Manager Bob Powers to reopen them for the use of riders. 

The first restrooms will be reopened this February at the 19th Street Station in downtown Oakland and the Powell Street Station in downtown San Francisco. Those restrooms will be staffed with attendants for at least the first three months to promote safety and proper use. 

“BART has worked hard during the pandemic to improve the system to encourage the return of our riders. A key part of that effort is to make the system more user-friendly and one of the most important steps we can take toward that goal is the reopening of long-closed restrooms,” said Powers. “Our goal for this round of restroom reopenings is to learn lessons and guide additional openings. We will actively engage with the BART Accessibility Task Force as well as design consultants to ensure we are upgrading these restrooms to make them safe, clean, and available to all.”

Restrooms at 10 of BART’s underground stations have been closed since 9/11 because of safety concerns. Now BART is moving forward with plans to reopen restrooms once plumbing, electrical, ventilation, access, and safety improvements are made. The new restrooms at 19th Street and Powell are designed like the new restrooms at El Cerrito del Norte Station, which were reopened in 2020 after the completion of a station modernization project.  Those restrooms were brought fully into code compliance and upgraded with an improved ventilation system. 

The initiative brings new funding challenges, but BART staff is working to identify potential sources of capital support. BART staff has conducted a detailed assessment of the conditions of the closed restrooms for access, repair, and security needs. Some restrooms require more renovations than others. BART hopes to identify funds to reopen restrooms at the Lake Merritt and Montgomery Street stations before summer next year. 

Based on the assessment and depending on the success of other reopened bathrooms there is potential to reopen upgraded restrooms at Downtown Berkeley and Embarcadero in fiscal year 2023. The remaining underground restrooms require significant funding and construction including designing and building brand new bathrooms at 16th and 24th Street Mission Stations. 

The estimated funding needed to reopen all of the closed restrooms is approximately $14 million through fiscal year 2026, none of which has been identified.