Thursday, May. 27, 2010

Pay Toilets

Time is money. But should that adage apply to toilets? In the mid-1970s, a growing consensus of Americans looked to flush the charges attached to public restrooms. With the help of the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America, several large metropolitan areas, headed by Chicago, got their wish. New York City went the opposite route, waiting until January 2008 to unveil its first pay toilet, in Madison Square Park. For 25 cents, patrons were granted 15 minutes of privacy, which equals the rate of a parking meter. But the real difference came when that 15-minute time limit was up. Instead of a police officer levying a ticket, the pay toilet responded by automatically opening its doors and exposing its guest to the city lights. Next up on the buyer list? Airline companies — redefining business class, one quarter at a time.