Progress continues toward improving the access and conditions of restrooms that transit operators use across Metro’s system of 200+ routes. Since responding to Labor & Industries in December, Metro has collected 7 reports of comfort station concerns from 5 operators (Metro employs over 2,600 operators), all related to a single temporary porta-potty at Myrtle Street near Othello Station during late December and early January. We resolved those concerns with our vendor and are now analyzing how to respond and improve access to restrooms for operators across the transit system.
With a full-time comfort station coordinator now on staff monitoring a newly activated phone line and emails, Metro has a stronger system in place and is able to be more directly responsive to concerns from operators. Staff involved with maintaining and planning for changes to our system of comfort stations are working together to build a more robust Comfort Station program, and we’ve pledged to work with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 on this now and into the future. A key task is conduct a comprehensive analysis of the system of 260+ comfort stations to identify and fix gaps.
Operators are encouraged to stop and use the restroom when the need arises. We ask our customers to respect and support drivers in this basic human need.
While the temporary upgraded bathroom at Myrtle Street near Othello Station has hand sanitizer and a supply of running water, there are two alternatives – across the street at the Union Gospel Mission weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a block away at the Safeway with running hot/cold water daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. We believe we have a permanent solution in the works and we will be able to remove the temporary porta-potty at that time.
This is just one clear example and the first of many our staff will have to work through day by day, but by teaming up with community businesses we will find solutions and fix problems so our operators have access to facilities where and when they need them. We continue to meet with L&I and report our progress toward providing unrestricted access to restroom facilities for operators across the Metro system.