MARTA pioneers urine detectors in elevators

12:56 AM, Dec 20, 2013   |    comments
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  • MARTA Five Points station bathroom
  • MARTA Five Points station elevator
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  • Urine detection system warning in MARTA elevator

ATLANTA -- The state, or rather smell, of MARTA's elevators has become the subject of many bad jokes over the years.

Just ask anyone who often uses those elevators about the practice of some riders to use them as bathrooms.

"Whoa, it smells like the stench of hell," rider Valerie Mitchell told 11Alive News on Thursday.

"Pathetic, it makes me nauseated, I mean it's just sickening," said rider Angela Trim.

"Sometimes they smell horrible, they are horrible," added rider Willie Freeman.

Since he uses an electric scooter to get around, Freeman has no choice but to use the MARTA station elevators.

So do many other people with handicaps and parents with small children who may touch or sit on the floors.

But those elevators should be a lot cleaner and more fragrant soon thanks to a new alarm system.

MARTA is the first mass transit system in the country to begin installing a urine detection system.

Activated by moisture and warmth, it sets off an alarm which nearby MARTA police officers can answer in seconds.

Right now the UDD system, as it's called, is installed in only one midtown station elevator, but will soon be in around 100 more.

"I think that's terrific because they need to do something about it," said rider Angela Trim.

"It's real good for the community and MARTA and for the riders," said Derrick Johnson.

"I think it's the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread," laughed Willie Freeman.

MARTA said someone urinated in the test elevator an average of once a day, but only once a month after the detection system was installed and that person was caught and arrested.

At $10,000 per elevator, the entire system will cost MARTA about $100,000 out of its budget.

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