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Metro improving restroom access for transit operators

Summary

King County Metro Transit has improved access to some restrooms for bus drivers and is correcting other problems identified in its restroom network.

Story

King County Metro Transit has improved access to some restrooms for bus drivers and is correcting other problems identified in its restroom network.

Details of Metro’s efforts and work plan were sent today to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries in response to an investigation and citation. The response identifies key actions Metro has already taken and what will happen next to address gaps in the network of more than 260 restrooms.

In addition, Metro is also working closely with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 to develop a comprehensive strategy to make sure the network of restrooms gives operators reasonable access where and when they need.

“Metro’s operators are the backbone of our service and deserve the best working conditions we can provide,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “I am fully committed to rebuilding the comfort station program and making sure operators have facilities they need along their routes.”

Some immediate actions are being taken to address problems and a work plan was submitted to L&I. Metro also paid a fine and requested L&I grant an extension to allow time to more comprehensively address the problems in the bathroom network.

Actions being taken

  • Upgraded restroom: To remedy a violation cited by L&I, Metro on Dec. 15 upgraded the portable restroom on South Myrtle Street (Othello terminal) used by operators. The new facility is larger, includes a hand washing station, a more frequent cleaning schedule and complies with state requirements.
  • Better instructions: Metro has clarified instructions for operators using a special swipe key to access a restroom at Center Park.
  • Field audit: Metro district supervisors fanned out to inspect every comfort station in the network, including problem locations identified in complaints to L&I in order to address concerns about restroom availability and cleanliness.
  • Network gap analysis: Using GIS mapping and a field audit results, Metro staff is identifying locations where improved bathroom access is needed, what actions will be needed to fill those gaps, and whether funding is needed for those remedies.
  • Lead transit chief: Metro has assigned a transit chief to lead the effort to audit results and coordinate work to address problem locations or gaps in the network. Metro is scheduled to permanently hire someone to serve in the “comfort station coordinator” position in March.
  • Better communication and reporting tools: Metro has made improved communications tools available for operators to report restroom problems via form, email or phone.
  • Closer coordination: Metro will continue to work jointly with ATU Local 587 to discuss and triage problem areas and focus improvements where they are needed most.
  • Clearer policy: Developing and adopting policy and procedures to routinely assess access and condition of bathrooms in the network.

Metro will also pursue longer-term improvements such as revisions of bus routing, terminal locations, and/or adjustment of bus schedules and identify and implement capital construction restroom projects where feasible.

“We’re taking action to quickly and thoroughly correct problems with our comfort station program for our transit operators,” Desmond said. “We’ve made progress on this issue and have more work ahead of us.”