HONOLULU (KHON2) — The $10 billion Honolulu rail is being touted as the most advanced transit system in the country by the city’s Department of Transportation Services.
Yet as officials ready the rail for its grand opening in just three weeks, the shiny new project lacks one very basic public need — bathrooms.
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“I think that’s ridiculous,” said Palisades resident Desirey Napoleon. “That does not make no sense. They invest that kind of money and not have any latrines.”
“Yeah, I think it poses a problem,” said Aiea resident Michael Hendrix.
Disbelief, bewilderment and frustration–that’s been the reaction from the general public, who, in most cases, assumed there would be bathrooms.
Even Stephen Wood, chair of the Aiea Neighborhood Board didn’t realize there aren’t any.
“Every time I use a mass transit system, I always see a lot of people using bathrooms,” Wood explained. “So it’s a little bit of a shock, that our mass transit system does not have bathrooms for the public to use.”
He added that he thinks they will have to add bathrooms somehow — even if it’s at just a few stations.
“And then signage to designate which ones of those do have bathrooms available for use for the public,” said Wood.
Wood shook his head and let out a laugh.
“This is crazy,” he said. “It’s like, it’s always something. This whole project, you know, so it just never ends.”
KHON2.com asked DTS Director Roger Morton when and why they didn’t include bathrooms. Morton said the decision was made years ago.
“It’s not uncommon in rail transit stations around the country, to not have bathrooms,” he explained. “It’s a combination of things, but it is that it’s become unmanageable in some cities to try to operate restrooms.”
Though there are no public restrooms in any of the rail stations, Morton said they do have at least one employee bathroom available in the event of an emergency.
“If the public is really, really in need of a bathroom, it’s kind of like in a — in a restaurant where there’s a key to get access to the bathroom,” said Morton.
“They will be able to get access to the restroom, from the station attendant,” Morton further explained. “That’s the policy. Unfortunately, we only have one toilet, in most stations. And so it’s not. It’s not feasible to leave them open, you know, without key access.”
But Morton admitted with an estimated 10,000 riders expected to use the rail each day, it’s not a good solution.
“That doesn’t work that doesn’t. That is just crazy,” Napoleon said.
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According to Morton, there are no plans for bathrooms at any of the stations in phases two or three of the rail either. And when KHON2.com asked him whether they’d consider adding porta-potties, he said they hadn’t discussed it and that porta-potties are not a good option for everyone.