Metro may have flushed over half a million dollars down the drain on a self-cleaning toilet that hasn't worked in years.
A new report by Metro's inspector general pointed out the issue. The self-cleaning toilet is located at the Huntington station in Northern Virginia, and records show it hasn't worked since 2017 — this despite years of maintenance that likely totaled more than $500,000.
The office of the inspector general found evidence that WMATA spent $416,789.32 based on "known" invoices between 2003 and 2017, but the office didn't receive four years of invoices. "Based on spending from the previous years, it is probable that WMATA spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out-of-service since the fall of 2017," the report said.
The figures associated with costs of the restroom represent costs over a 16-year period, Ian Jannetta, a Metro spokesperson, clarified in an email.
Some watchdog groups say it's an example of Metro's poor spending practices.
Metro, however, said that the restroom was necessary given the circumstances around the time the it was introduced.
The toilet was installed in 2003 at a time when riders weren't allowed to use existing facilities in restricted areas due to post-9/11 security concerns, Jannetta said in the email.
"Many customers welcomed the initiative at the time, and the restroom remained in service through multiple Metro administrations," he said.
Now that station managers can grant access to existing restrooms, the toilet was decommissioned and removed earlier this year, Jannetta said.