Interview With Michael & Son on Their DC Metro Bathroom Map

It’s a situation everyone hopes to avoid. You are on the metro and you realize you need to use the bathroom. You look at the map to see the next stop. You have never been to that metro before and have no idea where to find the nearest restroom. What do you do?

Luckily, you now have an answer. Michael and Son Services, Inc., the local plumbing company that has served the area since 1976, recently embarked on a month-long journey to visit every stop on the DC metro and create an interactive online map showing the closest restroom to every station, including the three stops in Pike District: Grosvenor, White Flint and Twinbrook. They even included a five-star rating for ease of access. The profiles for each Pike District metro stop are below, along with additional photos to help you find your way.

You can view the map here.  

We reached out to Art Barletta, Digital Marketing Manager for Michael and Son, to learn more about how this innovate public service project began and how the restrooms in Pike District measure up.

Pike District: How did you come up with idea?

Michael & Son: As a leading plumbing and septic company in the Washington region, we wanted to create something that would be useful for our customers and the larger community. Metro's Safetrack program has lengthened commutes and made traveling by public transit considerably less comfortable this year. The Metro Bathroom Map seeks to improve one aspect of the situation by providing riders with a bathroom option while on the go. 

How many people were involved in scouting bathroom locations? Did people volunteer? Was this a fun project? 

We had a team of about 10 doing the scouting and taking notes for the Metro Bathroom Map.  Everyone involved was a local Washingtonian and we had many people who were excited to contribute to the map with their personal favorite bathrooms near metro stops. 

How long did the process take to compile the complete list? 

It took about a month for us to find the bathroom at each metro stop and write up the directions from the train platform to the restroom. There are over 100 stations in the metrorail system so it took a significant amount of time to gather all pertinent details. 

How long did you spend at each location searching around for bathrooms? 

We typically spent between 5 and 15 minutes per location.  

What metro stop was the most difficult to find a bathroom?

There were several stations along the green line across the river that had no accessible restrooms nearby. This has been indicated on the map. 

What metro stop had the best bathroom accommodations?

The new stations along the silver line have nice, easily accessible restrooms in the station. These are probably the most convenient. There are also a few stations with a grocery store right at the entrance that made for an easy bathroom stop. For example the SW Waterfront and the Potomac Avenue stop.  

What kind of reaction have you received? (customers, social media, media coverage, etc.)

Reaction to the map has been overwhelmingly positive. We have received lots of coverage in local publications such as DCist, Curbed, and Popville. Additionally, our customers and social media followers have all been supportive of the campaign and have helped get the word out!

[Left: DC Metro Map profile for Grosvenor Strathmore stop; Top Right: Front entrance to Meridian at Grosvenor Station; Bottom Right: View of Grosvenor metro entrance, Meridian is in the distance to the left of photo.]

Grosvenor – How did you end up at Meridian? You say “You may be able to use the restrooms, but not a guarantee.” Any story behind that? Did you have to talk your way into the bathroom?

Meridian was the only nearby building that seemed to be open regularly. The person who took notes for this stop said it would likely depend on who was working that day. Technically, it is not a public restroom, but in an emergency it would likely be an option.  

[Left: DC Metro Map profile for White Flint station; Top Right: McDonald’s on Rockville Pike, White Flint metro entrance in background of photo; Bottom Right: 7-11 in strip mall located just south of McDonald’s.]

White Flint – there are a lot of businesses across the street, how did you choose McDonald’s and 7-11?

During our research, we found that 7-11 stores seemed fairly reliable in terms of offering a restroom. Even when they were supposed to be for employees only, if you explained that it was an emergency, they often provided access.

[Left: DC Metro Map profile for Twinbrook; Top Right: Safeway across the street from Twinbrook Station driveway entrance; Bottom Right: Fuddrucker’s to the north of metro parking lot.]

Twinbrook – this appears to have been a relatively easy search. Any issues at this stop?
Twinbrook had many nearby options. Safeway had an easily accessible restroom but the Fuddruckers was just slightly easier to get to from the station exit.

Any overall impressions about the bathroom availability in Pike District? (Grosvenor got 2 stars and White Flint and Twinbrook got 3 stars for ease of access).

Compared to the stops along the silver line (with restrooms in the stations themselves) and some of the downtown DC stops (with dozens of options just steps away) the Pike District restrooms were slightly less accessible. Overall though, everyone at the local establishments was very friendly and many stores and restaurants located near Twinbrook, White Flint, and Grosvenor could be an option in a pinch!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017