|Shut down escalator illustration|
For a city that prides itself as a hot spot for tourism, it is pretty embarrassing that its train station escalators had to be shut down because of a large amount of human feces.
When a repair team opened a broken escalator at the Civic Center BART station in San Francisco, California, last month, they found so much human excrement in the machine that they had to call a hazardous materials team.
While the volume of human waste is surprising, their presence is not. Once the stations at the bottom of the stairs in downtown San Francisco shut down they are often a privileged place for the homeless to camp for the night. The space is then also used as a toilet.
All these biological excretions can clog the wheels and gears of an escalator, which causes its closure for extended periods for lengthy repairs. It also increases station cleaning costs and creates an unpleasant aroma for travelers, each morning.
Five of the nine escalators were not working at BART stations on Wednesday in downtown San Francisco, said Jim Allison, a BART spokesperson. While there are many reasons why a BART escalator can break, the beating they take in at night is one of the most severe for the machines.
The problem is difficult to combat, especially because so few public center bathrooms remain open late at night, BART officials said.
The officers have to witness someone in the act in order to issue a citation, a spokesperson for the BART police said.