Video: How engineers turned a Muni bus into a mobile shower

Did you enjoy your shower this morning? Many in San Francisco don’t have that luxury. There are seven locations in our city where homeless people can take a shower, but there are more than 3,000 people who live on the street. When Doniece Sandoval heard that Muni was decommissioning diesel buses, she had the idea of turning those buses into mobile showers. She founded Lava Mae, and got Muni to donate a vehicle to her.

As it turns out, transforming our familiar old Muni buses into mobile showers is no easy engineering feat. In this video, engineers show how they rip apart the passenger bus, install showers along with water heaters and gray- and black-water disposal plans. The buses hook up to a fire hydrant to provide water for the shower service. The two stalls in the bus have sky lights, a digital shower, and a changing area to provide the homeless with a bit of privacy and respite from the street.

We first heard about Sandoval’s idea in 2013, and in 2014 we eagerly awaited Lava Mae’s rollout. This spring, Lava Mae launched its first service and is partnering with various organizations around the city to provide showers to the homeless.

Lava Mae is working on a second bus with Airco Mechanical, architect Brett Terpeluk, and engineer Chris Doherty. They plan to launch the second mobile shower this fall.

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