Seattle’s five automated toilets are on the road. The toilets were loaded onto flat-bed trucks last night and are en route to an Ebay auction winner who paid $12,500 for the toilets that have set Seattle back $5 million.
The German-made Hering-Bau toilets cost about $544,000 each to install and about $128,000 to maintain. In some other cities using the toilets, those costs are offset by selling ads on and within the units. Seattle law precluded posting ads on our units.
The high maintenance costs and problems with drug use and prostitution meant the toilets had to go after only five years of use.
They were first listed on eBay in mid-July with a minimum bid of $89,000 each. There were no bidders.
The toilets were re-listed Aug. 4 with no minimum bids.
Comparable new units are now selling for around $200,000.
The city council overrode a mayoral veto in 2001 to install the toilets throughout downtown. But a report released in March said the toilets are the least cost-effective way for the city to provide public restrooms and said they were magnets for illegal activity.
Racecar Supply of Rochester won all five auctions, according to the Associated Press. The owner told an AP reporter that two of the units will grace the South Sound Speedway. He plans to sell the other three.