Urine detection system installed in Atlanta transit station elevator

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Urine detection system installed in Atlanta transit station elevator

The city of Atlanta is looking to clean up the image, and the odor, of its transit system.

Many of its elevators have doubled as restrooms and smell like it. That's about to change with first-of-its-kind technology which catches "offenders" literally -- with their pants down.

"The smell hits you so bad. You hold your breath just to hurry up and get off the elevator," said Alicia Porter, a rider on a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) train.

MARTA elevators have a smelly reputation. To get to the train, you often have to ride in a urinal first.

"If you've ever been in a Porta Potty, that's what it smelled like before," said MARTA Director of Elevators/Escalators Tom Beebe.

Beebe is working to clean up the image and the odor of MARTA elevators by launching a pilot program in an elevator in one of the Midtown stations. They asked local media to not say which one.

There are 111 elevators in the system. Beebe said they were having problems here every day. But not anymore.

"If somebody was to urinate in here, there's going to be a splash factor. It would splash and it would sense," Beebe said.

It's a urine detection device, called UDD. If a person relieves her or himself , the sensors sound the alarm and the MARTA police will be there in seconds to catch the offender in the act. There is also better lighting and a camera catching all the action. The pilot program has been in place for a month, and that daily problem dropped to one incident, in which an arrest was made. Next month, MARTA will begin installing sensors in other elevators, with the goal to have them in all 111.

It's going to cost MARTA about $10,000 to outfit each elevator with the urine detection device. This week, they also reopened restrooms at four stations, so they hope that will help with the problem.

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