Ask SEPTA: GM Joe Casey answers question about the ‘pee smell’

SEPTA subway concourse below Broad and Chestnut Streets. Credit: Wiki Commons.
SEPTA subway concourse below Broad and Chestnut Streets is a haven for riders who can’t hold it. Credit: Wiki Commons.

Every three weeks, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey addresses reader-submitted questions about the city’s public transit system. This week, Casey answers reader’s questions about station reconstruction and that curious “pee smell.”

Question: When will the Wayne Junction station be finished?
Joe Casey: The renovation of Wayne Junction Station, originally opened in 1832, is approximately 83% complete. The project involves a complex historical restoration, and is anticipated to be finished during spring of 2015.  A longer than usual construction schedule had to be utilized because the station is in the heart of our Regional Rail system and we decided to keep the station open during  construction for customers.  The scope of the project includes new construction as well as renovations to the existing station.  New construction comprises high level platforms, shelters & canopies, elevators, lighting, compliance according to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), police and revenue facilities, audio-visual public announcements, and closed circuit television, as well as renovations to existing passenger tunnels, stairways, and structures.  In coordination with station facility improvements, SEPTA forces reconfigured the existing power, signals and track infrastructure within the station area, in order to provide accessibility for Chestnut Hill East Line riders. 
Question: We all know SEPTA takes a lot of crap for the smelly stations. But seriously what are you all doing about this pee smell now that you all have all this money?
Joe Casey: Unfortunately, the issue does exist where people occasionally relieve themselves within our facilities, especially in the unpaid areas such as stairwells, station crossovers and the concourse area. The increase in the homeless population in Center City has made this problem more acute. SEPTA police will cite anyone caught in the act. When a foul or urine smell is detected, please contact Customer Service with specific details and we will promptly investigate any “smell” concerns. Our station porters clean, disinfect, and deodorize their areas on a regular basis.  We are creating special dedicated mobile mini-wash down crews who will thoroughly address known hot spot concerns such as stairways, areas around trash cans, etc. on a much greater frequency  than our larger wash down crews can currently accommodate. Septa has recently taken over responsibility for the City’s concourses where this problem is most noticeable. We plan on renovating these areas over the next few years utilizing the new Transportation Funds and hopefully the public will respect this investment.What would you Ask SEPTA? Email your questions to Metro Philadelphia City Editor Christina Paciolla at

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