A new survey released Friday by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) found that more than half of all Connecticut public bus drivers on multiple lines have no access to restrooms while they’re on the job.
The survey was conducted following reports in June that some Connecticut transit workers wore adult diapers from the lack of access to bathrooms at work. The results show that transit workers from CTtransit, SEAT, GBTA, HART, Milford Transit, and other agencies across the state are forced by employers to stay on their routes rather than use the restroom.
According to the ATU survey, on average, 60% of operators in Connecticut reported having no clean, accessible, well-equipped, or secure restrooms at the end of or along their routes.
- 80% of operators report that there is not enough time built into their schedules to allow for a restroom break.
- 82% of bus operators say they try to “hold it in” to cope with a lack of access.
- 68% of operators say they avoid eating and drinking altogether to cope with a lack of access.
- More than 30% of operators report using trees, bushes, cups, or bottles to relieve themselves.
- 26% of operators report having soiled themselves on duty because they lacked restroom access.
- 37% report having urinary tract or bladder infections.
- 16% report having been warned, disciplined, or retaliated against for requesting to use a bathroom.
Related Content: Transit bus drivers push for bathroom access
In a letter sent to Commissioner Redeker on Monday, ATU International President Larry Hanley quoted one bus driver, who said, “The supervisors sometimes stand outside of the bathroom on long routes to see when the operator is coming [to] use the bathroom…they try to intimidate the operator so they will leave on time.” Another simply pleaded, “Please help us.”
Hanley also pointed to the risk for bus riders in Connecticut. “While the simple fact that restroom access is a human right should be enough motivation to address this hostile atmosphere, it’s worth noting that a lack of restroom access for bus operators also poses a danger to passengers.” Hanley referenced a 2011 study published in Neurology and Urodynamics that found that an extreme urge to void one’s bladder has cognitive effects comparable to being awake for 24 hours or having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. “In other words,” Hanley wrote, “when a bus operator holds it in, as more than 82% reported doing in our survey, their ability to safely operate a vehicle is severely impacted.”
When News 8 initially covered this story in June, CTtransit issued the following response:
CTtransit’s policy is that bus operators take bathroom breaks at layovers, however, they are allowed to use the restrooms along the route if needed. Instructions on how to do so are included in the company handbook. Each Division maintains a list of bathroom locations along their routes which is given to drivers. The company tries to proactively maintain these locations and find new ones as the list can change as property owners change their bathroom availability. We would never deny an operators request to use the bathroom unless there is a safety concern.