"America's advocate for the availability of clean, safe, well designed public restrooms"


Donations to the ARA are tax-exempt  under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code





In the late '70's municipalities began closing public toilet facilities based of the expectation that strengthened 'customer restroom building codes' would fill the need.  As it becomes apparent that many people hesitate to visit areas that lack public toilet facilities, there is now trend to provide year round public restroom facilities.   

These facilities can be designed and built by the municipality, or they can rely on newer standard solutions that reduce both install and recurring cost.   In the near future expect to see companies that also specialize in cleaning and maintaining public restroom facilities. 



Companies that specialize in building public restrooms are typically able to provide more effective facilities at a lower initial and recurring cost then custom designs.   Typically these facilities have less down-time, are easier to service and are less prone to vandalism. 




The Portland Loo is a low cost, low foot-print single user restroom solution that looks like an APT but is not self-cleaning.  Unlike some same brick & mortar pre-fabs that contain holding tanks, the Loo is water & sewer connected.



Prefabricated 'brick & mortar' single and multi-user restrooms are another low cost public restroom solution.  Their design have been refined over time, they meet ADA requirements and they typically incorporate toilet and lavatory fixtures hardened against vandalism.  The designs have good ventilation and many facilitate provide limited heating for extended or full year-round operation.   

In the near future units will be available that incorporate the automated technology found in APTs.

Vendors and Manufactures - Prefab 





The Portland Loo: A Unique Solution to a Universal Problem


Automated Public Toilets are high-tech self cleaning public restrooms.  They require a service contract but for the most part are unattended.  Unlike portable sanitation units (PSU) or 'porta potties', these unit are fixed location and require electrical, water and sewer connection.  While more expensive then a PSU, they provide clean seats, floors and actually look nice.  

WARNING!  Almost all APT's installed in the U.S. are single toilet units with only limited ability to accommodate the public during high use times.  Because they are clean and have lavatory fixtures, individuals will remain in them for longer periods then they would when using a PSU.  One person can lock out others for 15 - 20 minutes.  This can lead to unacceptable queuing and wait-times.   After an initial 'pilot test' of single toilet APT's,  Atlanta ordered   'quad toilet' APT's for their main MARTA station.  

APT procurement cost analysis is often flawed when single toilet APT are cost-compared to traditional multi-stall facilities that accommodate the sanitation needs of many people at once.  


So the five fancy-pants, self-cleaning automated public toilets (APTs) that landed in 2004, the ones that came with a mind-blowing price tag, are being sent away ... ... It will cost $500,000 plus about $50,000 per toilet for removal, a somewhat extortionate amount of money for an exit agreement -- 
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer 'Downtown toilets have got to go' 3/14/2008 

...Councilman Richard Conlin voted in favor of acquiring the toilets but now says, "They haven't worked out the way we'd hoped. ... We're going to have to go back to the drawing  board."  "They've become dens of illegal behavior," ....
Source: 'Seattle's automated public toilets now haven for drugs'  Associated Press 10/06/2006

...high-tech public toilets are not as reliable as someone who really needs a restroom would hope... a little observation showed that plenty of people couldn't get the computerized lock to open with their quarters.  Other people have had the opposite problem. A bus driver told the newspaper the doors opened on one of his passengers just as she was pulling her pants up.
Source: 'Boston's High-tech toilets problematic' United Press Intl 06/08/07 


Vendors and Manufactures -  APT's


"When Nature Calls" Video (2:51) 10/8/03 - Beth Parker WTTG-TV FOX 5 News Washington, DC
Broadband Video
| 56K Modem Video 

"Automatic for the People" Video (4:08) 9/03 - Kristen Lee TelestraClear Business TV One Auckland, New Zealand
Broadband Video | 56K Modem Video


Toilet Cleaning Technology 


Arguments Against Pay Toilets

Often APT's are configured as Pay Toilets.  The American Restroom Association is strong proponent of free public restrooms.  Likewise the National Model Building Code developed by consensus among the States, does not allow pay toilets unless mandated toilets are also available without charge.  Typical State Code ...

Required [toilet] facilities shall be free of charge and designated by legible signs for each sex. Where pay facilities are installed, such facilities shall be in excess of the required minimum facilities   

2000 INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE Para 403.6.2 Pay facilities.  Published by the 50,000-member organization  International Code Council (ICC), whose membership includes all voting members of BOCA, SBCCI, and ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials), the IPC incorporates much of the language of the BOCA National Plumbing Code and the SBCCA Standard Plumbing Code.  

Even when the cost is minimal, -- $0.25 -- it presents a problem for those caught without the necessary coinage.    

March Fong Eu, California Politician 

March Fong Eu became famous for smashing a toilet bowl on the state Capitol's steps during her successful campaign to ban pay toilets, which she said discriminate against women.  She was elected to the California legislature in 1966 as a Democrat representing Oakland and Castro Valley. Eu served four terms and was elected California secretary of state in 1974, making her the first Asian American woman ever elected to a state constitutional office in the United States.


The award winning musical about a place violators are carried away to when they're caught in the act of not using the "pay - per - use" public toilet.  
Additional information  



"In a restroom for one to three minutes we own you. It’s a liability to turn left or right at a urinal."
 – Marc Miller, president of New York-based InSite Advertising.

Is restroom advertising a straight flush or just money down the drain?
Pittsburgh Business Times - July 5, 1999  
Restrooms are a welcome break from the message assault

According to research noted by Media Life 

78 percent of restroom visitors interviewed recalled one or more of the restroom ads, according to an Audits & Surveys Worldwide study. The sample consisted of 14 locations in New York City, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. Interviews were conducted as patrons exited restrooms.  Of those interviewed 75 percent reported that they viewed restroom advertising as "a good idea". Additionally, 43 percent reported finding it "very good" and only 2 percent called it "very poor”.  The same study found 24 percent of interviewees felt more positive toward a brand after viewing the restroom advertising. Negative responses were 5 percent, with the remainder reporting not being affected by the ad.   Nearly 75 percent of interviewees felt that ads in restrooms are more noticeable than or equally as noticeable as ads appearing in other media, according to the Audits and Surveys study. 
Demographics: From Media Life, Apr 28, 2003

The gender of bar and nightclub customers using restrooms broke down to 55 percent male and 45 percent female, according to the Audits & Surveys study. Additionally: 

35 percent of respondents were ages 18-24 
44 percent were ages 25 to 34 
14 percent were ages 35 to 44 
7 percent were 45 and older. 
The education breakdown was: 

12 percent with high school or less 
26 percent with some college 
47 percent college graduates 
12 percent with graduate degrees 
3 percent with postgraduate work. 
Activities in the past 30 days, according to the Audits & Surveys study, broke down to: 

Accessed the internet at home or work, at 67 percent 
Went to a movie theatre, at 66 percent 
Bought a music CD or tape, at 61 percent 
Went to a health club, at 45 percent 
Attended a concert or show, at 35 percent 
Made a purchase over the internet, at 31 percent 
Also 26 percent of respondents visit a bar or nightclub twice a week, 24 percent once a week, 20 percent three times a week, and 13 percent four times a week. Daily visits were reported by 3 percent. Groups can be tightly targeted. For instance, Hispanics, African Americans, gays, sports fans and ravers can be singled out. "The most interesting thing about restroom advertising is micro-targeting," Roche says. "There’s a highly targeted delivery of demographics and psychographics."

Restroom Advertising Companies

Flush Media

Jonny Advertising
Insite Advertising, Inc

NextMedia and AlivePromo 

NextMedia and AlivePromo Collaborate for Networked Restroom Advertising
Monday September 13, 8:07 am ET Press Release Source: AlivePromo, Inc. MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ --

NextMedia, the nation's largest provider of indoor advertising, today announced that it has collaborated with digital sign company AlivePromo to install networked digital advertising boards in Minneapolis/St Paul area restrooms. The digital boards, displaying high-resolution, animated advertising, will be managed using AlivePulse, a patent-pending AlivePromo process that allows for content to be changed from anywhere with access to the Internet.   The deployment of digital restroom advertising is expected to extend and diversify NextMedia's indoor advertising reach; the addition provides more options for advertisers while making the concept more attractive to certain venues. ...




American Restroom Association                                      
PO Box 65111                                                                        
Baltimore, MD 21209
202-747-6031 - Policy and Media queries 410-358-9007(FAX)

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: The American Restroom Association (ARA) is formally incorporated in the State of Maryland and is a subsidiary of the International Paruresis Association  ARA is not qualified to provide legal advice. This web site contains non-vetted information that is un-official and for education only. There are no formal or financial agreements with any persons or entities cited. Some material is from copyrighted sources. This material is for education only and it must be source referenced.

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