Flushing Promises

By Bob S

The transfer points were built in 1998 with sewer, water, and electricity.   The original plans were to have toilets installed.  Those promises were flushed, and the money was spent on another project.  Currently, we are being told that Metro has us covered. Trust the process.  I’m feeling challenged by these words.

We were told to use businesses. The time it takes to walk to a company can take time away from serving riders and keeping on schedule. Bathroom availability on Holidays, weekends, early mornings, and late nights has been limited or non-existent. Hydration is essential, which leads to restroom use. Many drivers feel they “should” buy something when using the business bathroom. Is this fair to the business owner to ask them to pay the city’s cost of sewer, water, soap & paper products used by drivers?

Because of Covid, many businesses were closed or refused drivers for safety concerns. Many companies stop allowing us to use bathrooms unless we purchase something from them. Currently, we have trailer-type bathrooms at the four transfer points that were put in during the pandemic. Only the South Transfer point and Capitol will have them as soon as the redesign occurs, with future promises of bathrooms at  Junction Road and Sun Prairie Park & Ride.

With the new redesign planning, bathrooms were an afterthought and only recently addressed. Even though the public is told there are bathrooms, there must be more.  We are given a list of businesses with bathrooms that we might be able to use.

Initially, we were told each location was contacted, and restroom access was approved, after asking who contacted each business.  I was told that, Apparently, that was not factual.  That’s what I was told, stated management, but nobody apparently went to each location.  So, I don’t know for sure that something like that happened.  Once again, trusting the process seems like we will tell you what you want to hear and do what we want without concern for drivers. 

After a brief Google search, I found a 227-page article Titled: Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access.  In the summary pages alone, I read that this can lead to distracted driving. A state of mind that neither we, the drivers, nor the people we transport desire.  Because the driver is thinking, where can I go to relieve myself?  With four seasons: snowbanks, ice, mud, rain, and lightning can now become a real danger.

Health issues need to be considered. Limiting voiding might lead to illnesses like urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Access may be required more frequently for people with health concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cycles, or pregnancy. Restroom access is a human dignity issue and a fundamental right. OSHA took part in this 10-year study involving the U.S. and Canada. I was told that Metro and the city do not answer OSHA.  My response is that their findings are still valid.

Currently, the end-of-the-line locations that are offered still rely upon businesses. With 85 to 120 drivers out on the streets at any time, can we ask companies to pay for the city’s responsibility for sewer, water, soap, and paper products without compensation? Even if a stipend is paid to these locations for driver use, early morning, late night, weekends, and holidays, some places are closed for business.  Leaving us without adequate restroom access. 

Drivers have suffered many of the same safety and health issues mentioned in the document I forwarded to Management.  Toilets should be installed at the end of each bus line for drivers’ use. I’m asking for continued support & Management accountability on this topic so that the issue is not suppressed and flushed.

The following link will take you to a support page. Please sign. Thank you!