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Even the public toilets in Sweden feature Scandinavian design, Source: Swedish Park and Nature Administration

Gothenburg to charge fee for public toilets – payable by card

Gothenburg to charge fee for public toilets – payable by card

That’s probably one of the eternal dilemmas for urban societies

Starting this week, the City of Gothenburg began charging a fee in order to use all of the public toilet facilities on the territory of the municipality. The service used to be free, however, the reason for the fee is to increase accessibility and reduce the vandalism and illegal activities for which the toilets have started increasingly being used. Due to this, the facilities have often not been available to people who want to use them for what they are intended for.

The price for using the public toilet in the Swedish city will be set at SEK 5 (= 50 euro cents) and it will be payable by card. Instruction for how the payment is made will be available on the walls.

There was a preceding pilot project for one year

The work with the introduction of payment systems begins with the restrooms on Västra hamngatan and will end with those in Azaleadalen. The fee will be introduced on all the city's public toilet buildings. However, the city website reported that it will take one year to complete the process.

One year was also the testing phase of the idea. The fee of SEK 5 for toilet visits had been charged to Drottningtorget's and Hjalmar Brantingsplatsen's restrooms. The results showed increased availability, security and reduced vandalism. Which led to the toilets being able to be used for their real purpose.

What’s great is that people in a hurry will not have to rummage around in their pockets for loose change anymore, now that the payment method has been digitalized.

However, there will surely be others who will frown at the imposition of tax on such basic physical needs, as many consider the access to public toilets to be almost akin to a citizen’s right. The city authorities, however, explained that the restrooms have been occupied for long periods for, among other things, drug use, violent crime, prostitution and overnight stays. There was a lot of sanitary littering that often led to blockages in the pipes, as well as breakage and damage to the interior. 

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