SEPTA Has Been Using Pee-Repellent Paint; Unfortunately It's Not Working

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BILLY PENN - Nearly a year after SEPTA began testing liquid repellent paint to discourage public urination, the authority has been unable to draw any conclusions about whether the coating made a difference.

“At this time, we are not ready to roll this out on a larger scale because the results are still inconclusive on its effectiveness,” SEPTA spokesperson Kristin Mestre-Velez told Billy Penn.

The coating is made up of a base coat and a top coat, and it works by being extremely hydrophobic — it actually physically repels water. Marketing campaigns have described it as “paint that pees back.”

And guess what? The repellent paint had no measurable impact on the number of rider grumbles at the locales undergoing the test. Said Mestre-Velez: “There was no significant change.”

SEPTA is continuing to look at ways to address the issue, Mestre-Velez said, adding that “[a]t the moment, our best deterrent is bright lights, barriers and diligent cleaning of our stations.”

However, she confirmed that testing of the pee repellent is still ongoing, so SEPTA hasn’t given up on the idea yet.

So SEPTA’s been pushing a pee-proof paint. The idea was that whenever a homeless person peed on the paint, they would get soaked back with a cascade of their own stream. It sounds gross in theory, and no one wants to get pissed on, but the idea that it’s going to be a 1:1 Super Soaker stream back onto the pisser is simply a misguided one.

This is the diagram they use, comparing regular paint to pee-repellent:

Uh, I don’t think so dude. Even if the paint truly does repel the pee (doubtful), the repelled pee would sloppily mist back, soaking partly the offender, but also the already-gross SEPTA floor.

Plus, where is this paint going? On every inch of every surface of the subway system? I don’t recall the publicly urinating vagrants to be very discerning about where they pee. So unless you’re coating the subway walls, the subway beams, the sides of the trains, the floors of the trains, the poles on the trains and the seats on the trains, there’s really no point. You might as well let everyone release their bladders on the outside walls of the train and let the speed and air resistance wick the pee off the side of the car.

San Francisco took a similar approach a couple years ago, but I don’t buy it:

So what’s the solution? How do we stop our underground from being an overflowing ravine of digested malt liquor? Public bathrooms? They make sense. Anyone using a subway toilet clearly has no other options, so the bathroom’s disgustingness is a penalty in and of itself.

And if we’re still using the soaking-offenders-in-piss defense, we might as well have roving deputies peeing on anyone that they catch publicly urinating. A big game of manhunt where transit officials try to poach weary travelers with full bladders and punish them with a commensurate stream of hot waste.

It’s pretty much the same system they’re using now, only my method creates jobs and saves on paint.

Otherwise, it’ll just be a bunch of this: