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Q: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: brudenell-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 20 Apr 2005 13:24 PDT
Expires: 20 May 2005 13:24 PDT
Question ID: 511929
Well this is your lucky day!

Please post your answer here.



Clarification of Question by brudenell-ga on 20 Apr 2005 13:26 PDT
PS: Did you miss South America?
Subject: Re: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 20 Apr 2005 14:35 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Brudenell, 

Well, first of all thanks for the chance...

In fact, I think that pay toilets are pretty popular in many places on
earth, as the enthiusiastic comments here indicted. It is almost petty
that one of us has to answer it...

"The earliest pay toilets were erected in Ancient Rome in 74 AD during
the rule of Vespasian, after a civil war in Rome affected greatly the
Roman finance. His initiative was derided by his adversaries, but his
reply to these objections is now famous: "Pecunia non olet" ("Money
does not smell")." (Wikipedia, their article on pay toilets,

Check out for example this whole article on the subject of public
toilets: "[...] though now across the globe, more than 600 cities have
automatic public toilets -- Singapore alone has 750, London 678, and
Athens 500 -- New York City is still "in the planning stages.""
(SOURCE: Rebecca Webber, "Public Toilets", Gotham Gazette, 15 July 01,

Companies Providing Pay Toilets

<> - French company making pay toilets, i.e. in France. 

<> - Swiss Company providing pay-toilet services. 

<> - not producing those
high-tech automated toilets like the former two, but selling some in
New Zealand.
<> SuperLoo India

America - United States
The first pay toilets in America (maybe in the United States) are
claimed by "Walt's" in 1936:
The Wonderful Animation Restaurants

Pay Toilets in San Fracisco 
Picture <> 

"Currently there are twenty five (25) wheelchair accessible
automatically self-cleaning public toilets installed throughout the
City. The toilets cost 25 cents to use. Anyone that cannot afford the
25 cent entry fee, can obtain free tokens at most non-profit
organizations or by calling JC Decaux at (415) 487-2300."
san Francisco Dept. of Public Works, Pay Toilets
<> (the page also includes a
map of all of the pay toilets in SF, funky!).

"The big green pay toilets on the street are cleaned after each use.
Some kids might think they're fun, but the cleaning leaves everything
a little damp (albeit clean)." (SOURCE: "San Francisco with Kids",, <>).

Ilene Lelchuk, "City workers to begin inspecting pay toilets in S.F.",
San Francisco Chronicle, July 10, 2001

"Best Place to Shoot Up - The new public pay toilets" (SOURCE: "Best
of San Francisco", <>).

" The 24 available toilets average 80 uses per day, offering 20
minutes of toilet time for 25 cents (20 minutes was recommended by the
mayor's task force for the handicapped.) The coin revenue does not
begin to pay for the $200,000 cost of the toilet, or for its daily
maintenance. To cover those costs, the company sells advertising on
cylindrical kiosks erected in high traffic areas." (SOURCE: Rebecca
Webber, "Public Toilets", Gotham Gazette, 15 July 01,

Lance Williams, "Brown's Paris tab raises questions", San Francisco
Examiner, January 24, 1997
- public toilets raise hard political questions.


But in New York, things ar grim: 
"New York State outlawed pay toilets in 1975 in response to the charge
that such facilities discriminated against women. Women always needed
a stall, while men could make do without, opponents argued. The city
won an exemption to the state law in 1993, a few years after a group
of homeless people brought a class-action lawsuit. "The fact that I
can't find anyplace to relieve myself in New York causes me lots of
problems and pain," testified one homeless man. "I have never been
able to find bathrooms in the subways. They are always locked and
unavailable. The bathrooms in the parks are in terrible condition and
In response to the government's failure to address the city's need,
earlier this year [2001, politicalguru], the 34th Street Partnership,
a Manhattan business improvement district, installed two automatic
public toilets, in Greeley and Herald Squares. As with the toilets in
San Francisco, users pay 25 cents for a maximum of 20 minutes and the
toilets clean and disinfect themselves after each use."
(SOURCE: Rebecca Webber, "Public Toilets", Gotham Gazette, 15 July 01,

Hi-tech pay toilets - in Houston, TX 

Boston - "Large stand-alone single occupant pay-bathrooms that
completely sterilize themselves after each use."
(SOURCE: McRestroom, Creativity Pool,

"Boston has freestanding, self-cleaning pay toilets in kiosks in eight
high-traffic areas downtown, including City Hall Plaza (near the
Government Center T stop) and Commercial Street near Snowhill Street,
not far from the Freedom Trail. Entrance costs 25???. Check carefully
before using these toilets -- reports of drug use in the enclosed
kiosks have led to increased maintenance, but you can't be too
(SOURCE : Frommers, "Fast Facts",

Jason Cammarata, "Gary and the Bean: Pay toilets flush out guest
policy hassles, make secluded trysts easy", The Daily Free Press,
January 30, 2003 <>
- Advices on having sex in Boston's pay toilet booths.

Pay Toilets 
<> - ThinkQuest on
pay-toilets in US history.


Also in America, but in Mexico, there are pay toilets called "Banos" 
(OurMexico -- Forums, <>). 

"I was pleasantly surprised that restroom cleanliness had greatly
improved since my last visit to Mexico. Rosemary and I did not
encounter any truly "memorable" toilets. Even the one in the Mercado
Libertad in Guadalajara was acceptable, although it did not have
toilet seats. It cost one peso to enter, and we found that pay
bathrooms were a pretty safe bet. So were restrooms in restaurants.
Everyone had to try to remember to place used toilet paper in the
wastebasket instead of flushing it down, even in the hotels. Mexican
plumbing cannot handle the paper. We encountered a wide range of
automatic faucets and flushers, and that was a point of interest for
Rosemary. Occasionally we found one with colorful mosaics or wall
paintings inside, and some had unique caballeros and damas
designations, such as pre-Columbian god versus goddess statues."
(SOURCE: Karen Kressin, "Taking Kids to Mexico", Mexico File
Newsletter, 1998, <>).

"At pay-bathrooms, there's usually a big toilet paper dispenser in the
public wash area, but you have to remember to pull a hank before you
enter a stall. If you forget, you're out of luck, because there's no
toilet paper in the stall. Though I've travelled afair amount in
Mexico, I often forget to grab a swatch, so I'm always glad that I
carry an extra wad in my bag."
(SOURCE: Holly Yasui, "A Japanese-American in Mexico" - The Details of
Survival, The Raven Chronicles, Sept. 1997,


In Martinique, the Caribbeans

South America
Before I go further, it is curious that I haven't found any in South
America (and I have been looking for it after you drew my attention,
including the less prominent spots, such as Guyana or Surinam). The
closest thing was Frommer's advice regarding Venezuela:
"There are few readily available public toilets in Venezuela. Your
best bet is a restaurant, hotel, or service station. Some of these
establishments (particularly service stations and roadside
restaurants) will actually charge you a small fee for the use of the
facilities. It's always a good idea to carry a small amount of toilet
paper with you, especially on the road, as the facilities at many
service stations -- and at lower-end restaurants and hotels -- might
not have any." (SOURCE: Frommer's, "Venezuela - Fast Facts",

Public pay toilets in Paris, France 

Another Picture 

More pictures and explanations at : 

"Another thing that may seem foreign to Americans is having to pay to
use a bathroom, particularly when confronted with different fees for
different needs. At big department stores and most restaurants, you'll
find free rest rooms, but for those other times, you may be required
to pay. However, unlike free public bathrooms in the U.S., French pay
toilets are typically clean, well supplied, safe, and usually
attended." (SOURCE: Don Andrews, "Ou Sont Les Toilettes?", Bonjour
Paris, 01/07/2003, <>).

"Pay Toilets!  They  call this civilization?  Now the principle isn't
foreign to me, I've seen  it before, but for it to be so universal-
and inconvenient.  I wound up  trading a phone card for the privelage
and I will admit it was quite  the bathroom. " (SOURCE: "7/13/01  R-ay
V-war and O-la", <>).

French Toilets 

In Russia, "Restrooms in Russia often have no toilet paper even in
public buildings and offices. Carry a couple of small packs of tissues
(Kleenex) in your purse or bag.

Restrooms can be identified by the sign: WC (Tualet). Restroom for men
is called "Muzhskoy" and for women is called "Zhenskiy".

These restrooms are pay restrooms which should be cleaner and have at
least the basic amenities. * indicates better quality facilities. "
(SOURCE: "Restrooms", Traveller's Yellow Pages,

Scariest Toilet picture, from Ukraine: 
"Be prepared to use outhouses. Many village homes do not have flush
toilets or even running water. Public restrooms can be frightening.
Towns and villages may not even have any public toilets. Decent pay
restrooms are becoming increasingly common in cities such as
Ivano-Frankivsk. As in any city, the best way to find a clean restroom
in a time of need while on the road is to go to a restaurant.
On the pictures one of those toilets.

Its not only Ukraine were u find not so good toilets, in France i saw
such things as well in some small villages or restrooms were u have to
stand up and put ur feet in 2 holes next to the toilet"
(SOURCE: catnl, "Toilets in Ukraine",

Nenagh, Ireland

Madris, Spain 

London, UK 

In addition, I could say, as someone who resides in Germany, that
automated and non-automated pay-toilets exist all over here (See for
example, from Munich,
I wish I could have shown you one from my hometown, alas none exists
online. Here's a bit more about Germany (this time, Berlin):
 Pay Toilets

Several sites mention also pay toilets in Italy, but I don't remember
from my visit there if there are any remarkable details about them.

"Pay Toilets: are they worth it?" 
In: Stephanie's Toilet Collection
<> - descriptions,
pictures, etc.

European Restrooms

Mumbai/Bombai India 
<> (not automated, is it?)

"This is a nice paid public toilet in Hampi, India - Note that a paid
toilet is almost never used by people in poorer countries. Maybe yes
to pee behind, but to pay to use is not normal. The India government
has lots of pay toilets, but very few of them used. There are 3 in
Hampi and this is great, but nobody uses, or the locals that are the
problem do not use them."  (SOURCE: "Toilets of the world",

Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam 
". So many people work on the streets there are some pay-bathrooms to
relieve themselves but most just find an empty bit of stone wall to
pee against."
(SOURCE: Amanda O'Neil - , "Welcome to Uncle Ho's City",

In Istanbul, Turkey : 
"The bathrooms were surprisingly clean - there are pay bathrooms at
almost every underpass. If you don't mind the occasional squat toilet
- they were clean and very handy for kids. "
(SOURCE: Deborah, "Family Travel in Istanbul", Wed Mar 09, 2005,

"To find a public toilet, ask for the tandas. In Malay, lelaki is male
and perempuan is female. Be prepared for pay toilets. Coin collectors
sit outside almost every public facility, taking RM0.20 per person,
RM0.30 if you want paper. Once inside, you'll find it obvious that the
money doesn't go for cleaning crews." (SOURCE: Frommers, "Fast Facts",

Siberia (Russian Federation) 
"In Siberia (Khabarosk and Blagavashensk) this fee was about 1$ US -
but compared to the free facilities, it was worth 10 times the price."
(SOURCE: "Should DL charge us $.50 fee to use the lavatory?(like paid
public toilets in Europe)"

"In Kano, Nigeria, toilets are money-minting business [...] In 1961,
individual traders started to build more toilets in market places to
serve themselves and their customers. Initially, the use of such
facilities was free but gradually the traders begun to charge a fee.
[...] The individual operators wholly manage the units, several of
which are managed by the owners while others are run by employed
managers. Some unit owners are known to own "chains" of public
conveniences elsewhere. A study to ascertain how the system operates
shows that most units have managers who supervise two staff to collect
the "pay-as-you-use entry fee". The fee ranges from N3.00 to N5.00
(approximately $0.3 - 0.5). A third staff is employed to clean and
inspects the facility after it has been used. KASEPPA inspects the
system from time to time to ensure that it is kept clean at all times.
A small office which serves as the cash and supervisor?s office is
usually provided at the entrance of the premises.

Majority of these pay-toilets and bathrooms are located in public
places, especially around the main markets. A few are found in the
congested residential areas. Those living in high-density areas
benefit immensely, as usually such places have no private toilets due
to limited space. All the units are build according to two standard
designs issued by KASEPPA. Type one units are big with 16 compartments
comprising five toilets and three bathrooms for men and seven toilets
and one bathroom for women. Type two is smaller and has 10
compartment. It houses four toilets and two bathrooms for men and
three toilets and one bathroom for the women.

Standard public toilet design is issued by KASEPPA. Type I toilets and
bathrooms measure approximately 1,500mm x 2,000mm. The bathrooms have
a shower only while the toilets have a squat flash facility and a
water tap. It costs approximately N1,200,000 ($12,000) to build while
Type II costs N800,000 ($*,000). Most of the facilities are connected
to the Water Board pipeline system. However, where there is irregular
water supply, private boreholes or wells are used to supply water."
(SOURCE: Mariam Ayoti, "Private Public Conveniences; Kano, Nigeria"

"Shadiest-  Perhaps the pay toilets in Perth that warn of improperly
disposed needles... "

"The Super Loo features a staffed spotless toilet and shower area and
costs NZ $2 to use. The Super Loo was opened by the Honorable Hogn
Banks, M.P., the New Zealand Minister of Tourism, on October 20th,
1993. The Super Loo holds the tile of the Winning Toilet for 1995 in
the "Hygenex Best Loo" Competition." (The Urinals of Super Loo, Taupo,
New Zealand <> ).

Tax payers pay for their toilets, don't they? 

And finally, a different idea of pay-toilets

I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
further clarification on this answer before you rate it. Search
"pay toilets" "pay wc" "pay restrooms" "pay bathrooms" 
with names of places, cities, etc.

Clarification of Answer by politicalguru-ga on 21 Apr 2005 22:07 PDT
South America (more) 
My colleague Bobbie7 has graciously provided this link, about Santiago de Chile: 
"Bring your own toilet paper for public bathrooms and change to pay for its use"
brudenell-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $100.00
This is just the sort of answer that I was waiting for. Thank you.

Subject: Re: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga
From: steph53-ga on 20 Apr 2005 15:20 PDT
Subject: Re: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga
From: politicalguru-ga on 20 Apr 2005 21:58 PDT
Thank you for the rating and the tip. I'll keep on checking on those
elusive South Americans.
Subject: Re: Whatever happened to pay toilets? -for politicalguru-ga
From: cheezfri-ga on 21 Apr 2005 16:55 PDT
I sure wish I had the original article, but I remember reading
recently that someone was lamenting the lack of clean restroom
facilities.  They remarked that some companies are starting to offer
pay toilets, in order to pay for staff to clean them regularly.


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