There will be more washrooms for transit riders on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system, but the precise plan has yet to be determined.
Earlier today, TransLink’s Board of Directors approved a staff recommendation to create an implementation strategy for providing washroom facilities on the system over the longer term.
The preferred method is to provide washroom facilities in partnership with third-party parties to maximize customer experience and maximize safety and security while also minimizing costs and risks.
But the introduction of washroom facilities will be limited to SkyTrain stations that see significant ridership and are also a major transfer or connection point, as well as facilities that see high numbers of passengers experiencing long journey times over the transit network.
Another consideration will be the development of a network of “relatively evenly spaced washrooms” in terms of travel time on the system.
There are a few options for providing washroom facilities to transit riders, and this will likely be implemented on a location-to-location basis.
Under-utilized spaces on transit property, such as a vacant retail space inside a SkyTrain station, could be turned into a washroom facility. In some cases, a handful of SkyTrain stations already have provisions for the installation of washrooms should a decision be made in the future to provide washrooms to passengers.
Opportunities also exist to include washrooms as part of comprehensive station upgrade projects or the construction of new infrastructure, such as the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.
Alternatively, the public transit authority could partner with developers, municipalities, or private commercial entities to provide access to a washroom facility adjacent to a transit hub.
The bulk of the cost of providing washroom facilities to passengers is not with the initial capital cost, but rather the hefty cost of operations and maintenance over the lifespan of the facility.
With today’s approval, staff will return to the Board of Directors in 2019 with an implementation plan that includes detailed options for an approach, budget, and timeline.
According to TransLink’s research, public transit authorities in Toronto, Boston, and Edmonton provide washroom facilities for customers, and they use a mixed-approach of implementation and operations. Other major agencies in Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago do not provide facilities.
A survey conducted by the public transit authority earlier this year found that 72% of the respondents indicated washroom facilities would improve the transit experience, and over 20% of daily transit users who responded said they had adjusted their transit travel behaviour at least weekly due to the lack of washrooms.
Approximately a quarter of respondents stated they would use the transit system more often if washrooms were more widely available.
Currently, TransLink only provides washroom facilities within the fare paid zones at both SeaBus terminals and on the West Coast Express trains.