Finding a public toilet in NYC still difficult 10 years into program launch

(AM NEW YORK) Sarina Trangle, August 5, 2019

Over the past decade or so, the city has planted 1 million trees, added at least 300 miles of bike lanes and launched a universal pre-kindergarten program.

But it hasn’t made more than halting progress in solving a persistent problem for many in the city, as just one-quarter of 20 planned automatic toilets have been installed as part of a program launched in 2008.

That limited progress has gone largely unnoticed, with many New Yorkers saying recently they were unaware of the five restrooms. Usage statistics underscore this unfamiliarity, with the least-trafficked automatic public toilet of the five that are operating in the city — the one in Grand Army Plaza — serving an average of 18 people a day, according to city data.

“People on our groups online and on a lot of parenting, particularly mom, groups, are always posting about, ‘What do I do? And where do I go?’” said Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, founder of Up-Stand, which advocates for pregnant women and families. “That is a really big issue. So it would be welcomed if that were something that were publicized and made more available.”