In the future, going to the public toilet will be free of charge in dozens of toilets in Berlin. From August 15, users will no longer have to pay for 50 of the 280 city toilets in the capital. This was announced by the Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection on Monday.
In consultation with Wall GmbH, the operator of the toilets, the regulation initially applies for six months. The 50 toilet facilities are evenly distributed across all Berlin districts. With existing, free toilets, 90 locations in the city can then be used without paying for them.
“The use of toilets is a basic need, so free provision of public facilities is generally desirable,” said State Secretary Markus Kamrad (Greens). “In addition to long-term financing via the budget, this also requires usage behavior that makes this possible. In the coming months we will test which way is feasible.”
At some of the new wall toilets, it is already possible to use the urinals free of charge. However, activists have long been calling for women to be able to use the public toilet without having to pay for it.
At the same time as the new regulation, the Senate and Wall are stopping the option of paying with coins in the toilets. In just two weeks, payment at all 280 locations should only be possible without cash. From now on, you can only pay by credit card, debit card, Apple Pay and other payment services or via the toilet app (“Berliner Toilette”). Physically handicapped persons are excluded. You can continue to use the toilets free of charge with a Euro key.
After the changeover, you can find out which toilets are free in the “Berliner Toilette” app and on the Senate Department’s website.
The background to the changeover is a series of burglaries in the toilets since December 2021, which have caused “high financial and material damage”, explains the Senate Department. “As part of a joint strategy to avoid breakdowns in the toilet facilities and to contain the serious damage caused by vandalism, the use of the Berlin toilets will therefore be completely cashless for the initially mentioned period of six months.”
From Monday, August 1st, the systems will be technically upgraded. “We have had very good and constructive talks with the Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection in recent weeks in order to end the series of burglaries and to permanently secure the operation of the toilet facilities,” said Wall Managing Director Patrick Möller .
After the end of the test phase in the coming year, a decision will be made on how to proceed. On the one hand, it is about the acceptance of cashless payment functions. On the other hand, it should be observed how the free access affects the condition of the toilets and their usability.
The options for paying with coins and bills in Berlin are becoming increasingly restricted. Last year, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) stopped accepting cash payments on their buses. Since then, a ticket can only be bought with a card or smartphone.
The project met with severe criticism. The politicians in Berlin are also opposed to this. The coalition agreement of the red-green-red government states that it must again be possible to pay in cash on BVG buses. So far, however, the BVG has not changed the regulation.
It was only on Monday that left-wing politician Sebastian Schlüsselburg called for Berlin tradespeople to be obliged to offer cashless payments in the future. Especially since the pandemic, it can no longer be explained why service providers do not offer cashless payment. “I propose to consider changing the trade regulations,” said Schlüsselburg of the “Berliner Morgenpost”.