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Flush with filth: Many subway station bathrooms dirty, or locked up

When nature calls underground, proceed to the bathroom with caution.

Many of the 129 restrooms in 77 of the system’s stations are overflowing with filth — if they are still open at all, according to a survey of every station bathroom by amNewYork conducted over six months.

“You’d have to be pretty desperate to go into one of those,” said David Suker, 41, a Bronx rider using the 161st St-Yankee Stadium Station, where a man smelling of marijuana was recently seen counting money in the men’s room.

Nearly a fifth of the system’s 468 stations have public bathrooms for men and women, mainly at the ends of lines and big transit hubs, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said. They are closed between midnight and 5 a.m. for cleaning, he said.

While transit records list 129 bathrooms, about 60 of them were locked or converted to other station uses like storage, amNewYork found.

“I guess I’ll have to hold it in until I get home,” said Jeff Reuben, 41, a Manhattan straphanger.

Of the open bathrooms, a third were frightening caverns of garbage, urine, standing water or unseemly smells. Odors from the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd. station on the N caused an amNewYork reporter to feel faint during a recent visit.

“They’re pretty disgusting. People are always cleaning themselves in there and doing other stuff,” said Kelvin Pau, 27, a rider using the 168 St. A station, which reeked.

Don’t expect to find toilet paper or soap, as few of the bathrooms had either. And while graffiti has largely been eliminated from subway stations, it lives on in the bathrooms, as many of the walls and stalls were covered in tags.

Keeping the bathrooms tidy and open is a challenge because they are constantly being vandalized or attract “criminal activity,” Seaton said.

“They may be locked at any given time due to vandalism and ongoing repairs,” he said.
(Julia Borovskaya, Tanish Hamilton, Chris James and Phoebe Kingsak contributed to this story)

If you got to go, here's where to go:

1. Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs, L/M: The men’s room in this recently renovated station was in extremely good condition. However, think twice about touching the door knobs and locks at this bathroom, as there's no paper towels or hand-drying machines.

2. Canarsie Rockaway Parkway, L: It's as good as it's going to get. The bathrooms were clean and stocked with toilet paper, soap and paper towels.
3. Dyre Avenue, No. 5: The bathrooms were in pretty good shape, but bring your own wipes, as there were no toilet paper or soap.
If you're at any of these stations, our advice is to hold it in:

1. Astoria Ditmars Blvd, N/W: The smell of waste in this station was intolerable, plus the ceiling leaked.
2. Hunts Point Ave, No. 6: If you find yourself here, you must be really desperate. The stall in the men’s room no longer had walls, the seat was soiled and cigarette butts littered the floor.
3. 57th Street, N/Q/R/W: There's a potpourri of not-so-pleasing smells, from vomit to some things even funkier.
(Heather Haddon and Nicholas Klopsis)


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