Transit/Health- San Francisco’s Bus and Rail Operators Demand Private Bathrooms on Public Space – John Metcalfe – The Atlantic Cities

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

July 16, 2013

The Bay Area was recently paralyzed by striking unions who want a better contract with the BART rail system. Might San Francisco’s MUNI operators be the next ones to mutiny, this time over a more basic demand – a decent place to pee?The city’s approximately 2,000 rail and bus drivers haven’t reached the walk-out stage yet, but they are speaking in firm tones to the city about their lack of restrooms. It can take an hour or more to complete a route, and they say they’re unfairly expected to either dash into gas stations, restaurants or city-approved porta-potties or else grimace and bear their aching bowels. Other options like peeing in a bottle or out the window seem mostly practiced by the passenger class.The transit agency has traditionally paid local businesses a yearly fee $4,000 and $5,000 per establishment for the right to access their facilities. But the MUNI’s has managed to get the city to start building more bathrooms on public spaces near transit stops. These primo commodes are up to 10 feet high and have about 90 square feet of leg room; at $170,000 each and with 36 planned, they would cost more than $6 million. Oh, yeah: They are also private, meaning if you’re not wearing a MUNI uniform forget about seeing the inside of one.Last week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors asked the union to “try to whittle” the cost down, both to protect the municipal budget and scarce sidewalk space. But so far the MUNI workers are sticking to their guns. “We refuse to be treated as second-class citizens in regards to using a restroom while serving the public and the city,” said a representative of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, according to the SF Examiner. “If there is a concern about a restroom costing $170,000, I have to ask how much does it cost for the city in workers’ compensation costs for renal failure of an operator? I think it’s a lot more than $170,000.”If built in full, the exclusive commodes would make MUNI employees some of the most pampered transit operators in the nation. New York’s drivers still rely on the bathrooms at restaurants, 7-Elevens and a ferry building, for instance, and Chicago’s operators sometimes use restrooms at municipal garages that they’ve described as “unsanitary” or moldy “hell holes.”

via San Francisco’s Bus and Rail Operators Demand Private Bathrooms on Public Space – John Metcalfe – The Atlantic Cities.

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