July 21, 2004
Hi-tech pay toilets

When one encounters the headline Downtown could get high-tech pay toilets in the daily fishwrap, there are two questions that leap to mind right away: One, how many toilet-related puns will the story include, and two, how many times will Kevin use the phrase "world-class" when he blogs about it?

Flush with success from projects that put decorative paving bricks on Main Street, expanded the downtown tunnel system and helped renovate the Rice Hotel, central Houston's redevelopment authority is turning its attention to matters more primal: public pay toilets.

"It evokes so much laughter," said Vicki Rivers, executive director of the Main Street Market Square Redevelopment Authority, "but it is a serious situation. My board members are very supportive of doing this."

Plumbing for five toilets was installed along Main Street during downtown's recent face-lift, and Rivers and her staff have started researching the array of self-flushing, self-sanitizing toilets on the market. But the project has been stalled by a bureaucratic clog: While Rivers' group, the business arm of a tax increment reinvestment zone, can buy the toilets, it can't pay to maintain them.

I'll spare you the suspense - those are the only two puns I saw, which brings it in at slightly below average. A grateful nation can get on with its life now, though it still awaits word on the "world-class" count.

The redevelopment authority has rejected a Swiss-made toilet unit with walls that are one-way mirrors, allowing users to view passers-by and activities outside the building as clearly as if through a normal window.

"People might be uneasy in this unit," Rivers said. "They might feel as if their privacy had been violated."

You think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2004 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

New York City has been debating this type of toilet for years and despite promises to install them, this has not yet taken place.

(Ladies and gentlemen, I must now warn you that I will be making two bad puns.)

Having seen these types of toilets in Paris, I can assure you that are a relief when nature calls. Hopefully, this idea won't be sent down the crapper by the Houston City Council.

(End of bad puns.) ;-)

Posted by: William Hughes on July 21, 2004 9:46 AM

Hi-tech pay toilets? In loo of what?

Some 25 years ago in Austria I encountered blatant sexism: public pay toilets for women, but free toilets for men. I was told by American women in my group that in each women's restroom there was a woman whose job it was to enforce payment. If we implemented that here, it would be good for Bush's much-hyped employment numbers, perhaps, but not for real wage growth: none of the attendants would be flush with cash.

Posted by: Steve Bates on July 21, 2004 10:01 AM

I knew I could count on you guys. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2004 10:05 AM

From the last two times I rode them, the trains are starting to become mobile public toilets.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on July 21, 2004 1:32 PM

Are any of these located near a U-bend in the river?

Posted by: Linkmeister on July 21, 2004 4:16 PM

can some body tell me the name or address of pay toilet manufacturer. we neet to install some in our city. self cleaning type

Posted by: mooketsi on April 7, 2006 3:45 AM