Bathroom Breaks


Every day bus operators face the stress of ensuring riders get to their destination safely, meeting schedules, dealing with attacks by passengers and fare beaters, weather, and traffic congestion. Worrying about where and when they will be able to use the bathroom shouldn’t be on that list. Yet, on the job, they are forced to “hold it” because the times on their bus routes are so tight that many drivers have difficulty staying on schedule even without using a bathroom.  Watch video on problem of bathroom breaks.

Bus operators across the country -- from Washington state to Washington, D.C. -- have complained about short bathroom breaks and a lack of restroom access on the job. Read story

An extreme urge to use the bathroom affects attention and thinking - equal to that of staying awake for 24 hours or a .05% blood alcohol content, close to the legal limit in many states. In addition, extreme urine retention can lead to urinary tract infections, bladder damage, and kidney disease. It endangers the lives of riders, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road, as well as the health of bus drivers. It’s outrageous and a serious violation of our rights.

Transit operators have a right to:
  • Rapid access to restrooms when needed, on all routes and all shifts
  • Safe access to clean, fully equipped facilities along routes and at end of routes with locations identified and updated
  • Adequate time to access, use, and return from restrooms
  • No retaliation, discipline, or threats for going to the restroom
  • Restroom use time built into scheduling
  • Clear policies on restroom access along the route, including how to notify dispatch, safe methods for leaving and securing the bus, communicating with passengers and discharging passengers.

Contact the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Health and Safety Department at 301-431-7100 for more information and how to join the ATU in demanding basic human rights for transit workers.

Downloadable materials:
  • Bathroom Breaks Poster 1 (PDF)
  • Bathroom Breaks Poster 2 (PDF)