From the NY Times:
The fancy new toilets didn’t work out.
The state-of-the-art French automated self-cleaning pay toilets at Herald and Greeley Squares, unveiled in January 2001 with fanfare befitting a papal visit, worked about 90 percent of the time.
But that was not enough, said Daniel A. Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, the business improvement district that runs the two triangular parklets north and south of West 34th Street and Broadway.
Besides, the toilets were a beast and an expense to maintain. Annoyingly, they needed a two-minute break between each user for the nozzles and sprays to do their thing. Most important, they never quite caught fire: Between the 25-cent entrance fee and what focus groups described as a profound mistrust of automation in the toilet sphere, use steadily dropped from 28,000 visits the first year to fewer than half that in 2007.
“It wasn’t a bad experience,” Mr. Biederman said. “It just wasn’t a great experience, and we wanted it to be great.”
And so, even as the city rolled out the first of its planned 20 automated pay toilets (different manufacturer; possibly fewer problems) with equal fanfare last year, the 34th Street Partnership, leader in the postmodernization of the urban public restroom, was bravely turning back the clock.
In May 2008, the partnership quietly shut down the A.P.T.’s.
This past summer, it replaced them with bathrooms cleaned the old-fashioned way: by hand.
And now, after a soft opening and a few months working out kinks, the 34th Street Partnership is proud to present what Mr. Biederman calls “a quality deluxe manual restroom experience.”
Photo from Bridge and Tunnel Club