Those space-age automated public toilets—or A.P.T.s, as they're known in the business—are all the rage in the two locations where they've been installed. Cemusa, the Spanish company that won a contract in 2005 to install 20 of them citywide, says that the self-cleaning A.T.P. in Madison Square Park was used 2,736 times in a recent 30-day period, while the one in Corona was used 1,920 times. So why have only two been installed since the prototype was unveiled back in 2006? A spokesman for the DOT tells the Times, "Some communities don’t want A.P.T.’s." You'll recall that some Park Slope residents had objected to a proposed toilet at Grand Army Plaza, and a Councilwoman representing the Upper East Side also declined.
And even if the community is in favor of a certain location, there are other factors to consider; a Cemusa spokesman explains, "We have to figure out: Is there a sewer at the site? Is there access to water? There needs to be accessibility to the facility for people with disabilities. It’s just more challenging than people think." It's also more expensive—each toilet and its installation cost between $300,000 to $500,000! Plus, the toilets needed to be hooked up to phone lines so the units can alert Cemusa to problems or emergencies. The company claims that three toilets they had hoped to install by the end of the year were stymied by engineering concerns, so for the time being most New Yorkers will have to keep begging for relief at restaurants and Starbucks.