The OSHA Code of Federal Regulations mandate toilet facilities in the workplace. These protections appear to be insufficient for those who drive for a living. Long-haul bus and truck drivers have access to toilets facilities at rest, fuel and food establishments along their route. Short haul drivers in congested metropolitan areas are, unfortunately, more likely to encounter situations where they cannot void when necessary. This problem is particularly acute for some local bus drivers must continue in route when running late. Even when on schedule they may find themselves on a repeated route circuit that affords insufficient toilet access opportunities. Route circuits contain stops along the way where drivers wait to avoid getting ahead of schedule. These locations allow the driver to briefly leave the bus to seek a restroom. In the past, drivers were able to use the toilet facilities of nearby commercial establishments, even those less accommodating to the public such as professional buildings. Increasingly and particularly since 9/11, many of these building have implemented access control procedures that preclude their use by transit drivers.
Potential Support Resources
University of Iowa Professor Marc Linder is the co-author of Void Where Prohibited, the book that was key to getting the OSHA regulations passed. He specifically address’s the problems faced by bus drivers in is second book Void Where Prohibited Revisited:
Letter to Editor on proposed closing of Park Restroom
As a mother of three children under the age of 5, I was appalled to read about the city leaders saving money at the expense of the children. Closing the park restrooms would cripple the playtime and spirit of San Jose children. Families are not the only people who utilize the restrooms. I have noticed that delivery drivers and postal workers also use the facilities. How will this impact their ability to do their jobs? I urge city leaders to explore this issue further before literally leaving us all without a pot to pee in.
Shannon Jones, San Jose
The state Department of Transportation is well aware of the problem of travelers relieving themselves in inappropriate places along the highway,… The DOT has a goal of providing a safe and sanitary place to rest every 60 miles on rural highways
Source: The Seattle Times ‘The roadside not truckers’ toilet’ 9/29/06
BART Transit Operator
Member ATU Local 192
Help! Transit operators at my worksite are in urgent need of access to sanitary facilities. We have had issues with access before, but since 9/11 and the recent heightened national security alert, the situation has worsened. Recently, my employer made an announcement over the transit communications system that all Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) stations would close their restrooms for security purposes. This action by BART, further restricted restroom access for us.
Restroom access is of great concern to transit workers at my worksite as indicated by the results of a recent restroom survey (11/03); 60% of the female operators responded yes when asked if they have had a urinary tract infection compared to 11% of the male operators. Additionally, 82% of male operators admitted that they were forced to use “other” means to void when restroom access was unavailable, compared to 65% of the female operators who responded yes. Sincerely,
Transit Operator, Ca
Source: Metroped Feedback from Yvonne W. dtd 29 Dec 2003
Transit Drivers Push for Bathroom Breaks
Bus and light-rail drivers in Oregon and Southwest Washington say they must wait so long for bathroom breaks that they sometimes lose concentration driving and occasionally make emergency stops to relieve themselves in the bushes. Growing traffic congestion makes it difficult for bus drivers to stay on schedule without giving up their breaks, said Dean Shearer, a TriMet bus driver. Computerized schedules fail to capture the reality of traffic jams and other delays, he said. …
In a union survey of 900 transit drivers, a third said they have had health problems related to waiting too long to use the bathroom, and a third said they have at times been forced to stop for emergency breaks in the bushes. Two-thirds said they have been distracted while driving by their need for a restroom.
Source: Oregon Live Dec 16, 2004
New York – A union official calls the bathroom issue “a key sticking point in the negotiations — dignity on the job.” Members of the Transit Workers Union have voted unanimously to authorize a strike unless a new contract is reached with the Metropolitan Transit Authority by midnight Thursday, when the present contract expires. A walkout could paralyze the nation’s largest mass transit system.
Source: Associated Press. Dec 11 2005
Downtown Bus Transfer Spot Moves
The new transfer location will provide access to a public restroom in the adjacent parking ramp. A bus stop will remain at Ninth Street and at Main Street, …
Dubuque Telegraph Herald – IA Dec 1 08
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