Washrooms to be added to Metro Vancouver transit stations, a top rider request

BURNABY — “Washrooms, here we come.”

That was what TransLink chair Lorraine Cunningham said at Thursday as board members voted to move forward with a plan to “increase the availability of customer washrooms along the regional transit system.”

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It’s a hot issue for transit riders. Social media is filled with cries to add washrooms at transit stations.

In a TransLink survey this year, increasing the availability of washrooms on the transit system was listed as the second-biggest priority for users with 53 per cent listing that as their top issue, below increasing service to minimize overcrowding and pass-ups.

Survey respondents said they are more likely to be satisfied with their transit experience if they have access to washrooms, at 74 per cent. Fifty per cent of the respondents said they have had to adjust their behaviour on transit due to lack of washrooms.

Armed with that survey data, TransLink will have management set a budget and a timeline.

According to a TransLink report, partnerships with third parties will be a big part of this plan to save on having to renovate existing transit stations by having washroom access nearby.

“This review has determined that access to washrooms is important to customers and efforts to expand the availability of these facilities are warranted at key locations, through a combination of actions, including partnerships,” said the report.

Washrooms are provided currently at the Seabus and West Coast Express train stations, as required by federal regulations.

As far as locations of washrooms, according to the report, the guiding policy will focus on this:

“Customer washrooms along the network should be provided in a manner that makes facilities available to the most number of persons at key points along their transit journey, while balancing the need for coverage and finite budget resources. The following criteria have been identified to assist in determining locations where access to washrooms should be prioritized, regardless of who provides these facilities:

“1. Major transfer or connection point for a high number of transit passengers; 2. High levels of passengers experiencing long elapsed journey times on the transit network; and, 3. Contributes to developing a network of relatively evenly spaced washrooms in terms of travel time on the system.”

Some of the reasons why TransLink hasn’t moved ahead with this type of plan before include the cost of adding washrooms, the cost of maintaining those washrooms and safety concerns regarding activity that might occur at or near those washrooms.

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