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Medford eyes tough loo

The Portland Loo,touted as indestructible, will cost RVTD $120,000. [Courtesy photo]

The old joke about “destroying the bathroom” is no laughing matter for the Rogue Valley Transportation District.

An “indestructible loo” at the Medford bus station is going to be installed in the near future to give some relief to weary travelers and homeless people day or night.

“There really isn’t a bathroom facility in the downtown that’s available 24 hours a day,” said Julie Brown, general manager of RVTD. “As a result, they’ll use the bushes or any area that that they can because there isn’t a bathroom.”

Portable potties are out of the question because they are easily vandalized or destroyed by fire. The plastic bathrooms can also be tipped over.

RVTD is in the process of buying the $120,000 industrial loo, similar to those installed in Portland.

The bus station does have a bathroom on the backside of the Greyhound building, but it’s locked during the night and has been subject to vandalism over the years. RVTD has it cleaned four times a day. Because of COVID-19, buses are cleaned twice a day.

The Greyhound bus arrives sometimes in the middle of the night, and frustrated travelers are often looking for a place to do their business.

“We don’t blame people for it,” Brown said. “I get it. If you need to use the bathroom, you need to use the bathroom.”

Medford City Council is considering awarding RVTD up to $100,000, which would be used to install the underground pipes to the stainless steel loo.

While The Portland Loo is touted as indestructible, Brown said vandalism is always possible.

“It’s unfortunate that there are some people that have issues,” she said.

The city of Medford has had vandalism problems with toilets over the years. The police station is a few blocks from the location where the loo will be installed, near the corner of Ninth and Front streets.

San Diego installed similar loos, but the city was forced to remove one of them in 2016 after it became a magnet for crime during the 13 months it operated.

Brown said the loo is designed so that police can easily confirm whether someone is inside of it.

The wall panels are graffiti proof, and the entire loo can be hosed down for easy cleaning.

Open grates at the top and bottom of the loo allow you to see how many people are inside and provide constant air flow.

The bathroom is wheelchair accessible, and a curved steel door is located on the front side.

Portland provided the inspiration for The Portland Loo, which was designed after the city saw an increase in its homeless population.

Sacramento installed The Portland Loo after a group of homeless people sued the city over a lack of public toilets.

The interior of the loo is spartan, not particularly comfortable and very drafty.

It is designed for one purpose: do your business and move on.

Councilor Tim D’Alessandro, who is operations manager at RVTD, said he doesn’t think it will cost the full $100,000 to install the pipes needed for the loo, expecting it will run $25,000 to $50,000.

He said the city needs a bathroom facility during the night to prevent excrement and urine from contaminating buildings and downtown parks.

“The biggest thing for me is to get a partnership for the city and RVTD,” said D’Alessandro, who said he would probably recuse himself from voting on the issue with the council Thursday night.

RVTD will have a security firm monitor the loo during the night, noting that the bus station bathrooms have been vandalized over the years. He said the existing bathrooms will also be upgraded in the future.

“Without the cost of these vandalisms, we will pay our portion of the loo within seven years,” he said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.