Station Sanitation: The Commodes Stay Closed at BART, Whether You Like It or Not

A blind person wandering from the Westfield Mall into BART's Powell Street Station realizes when he's crossed the threshold from one to the other. The overwhelming odor of Wetzel's Pretzels gives way to the overwhelming odor of urine.

BART this month circulated an online poll gauging passengers' interest in various potential station upgrades. Depending on responses, the agency may install more artwork, more informational kiosks, or beef up the wifi.

The option of curtailing decades of olfactory torture by reopening the restrooms barricaded after 9/11 was not offered.

In fact, keeping the restrooms shut at subterranean stations — and, thereby, rendering the entire station a restroom — is a requirement placed upon BART by the Transportation Security Administration, says agency spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

Thus, riders keeping their heads down and holding their breath may not notice the state of Powell's ceiling. As in, there isn't one. Following asbestos removal in 2012, the fireproofing-sprayed lintels were left exposed. Poll-takers, however, were asked to choose from four different snazzy designs.

Not included, incidentally, were the cost estimates for each ceiling design. They don't yet exist.

So, for now, Powell Street Station has no ceiling. And the cost of its future ceiling has no ceiling either.

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