A photo from a Nashville bathroom that quickly spread online is getting some of the credit for an official promise to clean and renovate the restrooms.
The photo (above) called attention to conditions at Music City Central, the city’s primary downtown bus station since it opened in 2008. Upstart activist group Music City Riders United published the image, with members calling the situation “deplorable.”
Their complaint goes beyond cleanliness. The men’s room has no dividing walls between its toilets and urinals. That led the group to create the side-by-side photo from the men’s rooms at the bus station and the former state prison. Then they challenged officials to identify which was which.
Kutonia Smith, 26, said she believes the image made the difference.
Within hours, the transit authority issued an apology and vowed to make repairs and add walls, with a longer-term plan to renovate. The Metropolitan Transit Authority referred several times to vandalism.
“We, too, are appalled that individuals have continued to vandalize the men’s restroom at Music City Central over the past several months. Such acts are deplorable and inexcusable,” the MTA said in a written statement.
The united riders kept up the pressure by attending the MTA board meeting with enlarged versions of the images.
“I think that's why they hopped on it so quick,” Smith said. “I don't believe they were going to make a change until we came into the building with our posters.”
For Smith, however, the discomfort continued. She said she ducked into the women’s restroom a few minutes after the meeting to find it lacking tissue and paper towels.
Vexed, she started rolling video on her phone.
“And now I’m trying to wash my hands and there’s no soap in here,” she narrates, going stall to stall. “This one doesn’t have a tissue thing and also has a hole you can see straight through … it’s just nasty.”
The activists have also requested better accommodations for people who use wheelchairs — and said they’ll be watching for follow-through by the transit agency.
“Hopefully they will get them fixed right,” Smith said.
Riders can reach MTA customer service here.