City buying 42 restrooms for HSR drivers, an issue that nearly led to a strike
People have been late for work because HSR drivers are waiting for single-stall washrooms at businesses
One of the biggest battles between the city and its 550 HSR drivers is being resolved — the city has put out a tender for 42 stand-alone washrooms at the end of bus routes.
Lack of washroom facilities has been a long-standing issue, one that's caused health problems among HSR drivers, said Eric Tuck, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107. Under the new contract, drivers will have five minutes built into every run to use the facilities.
"It's about having access and time to use the washroom, and the health implications of that as well," Tuck said. "It was a huge issue."
The new deal, he said, gives drivers "a couple of minutes to walk and do something other than sit."
The city is looking for a bidder to supply 42 units, which will be self-contained and include heat and running water. The units will be installed over the next three to five years.
The successful bidder, the tender says, will sign a three-year contract to supply, operate and maintain the units.
"Only neutral exterior colour (i.e. white or grey) self-contained rest room units are acceptable," it says.
Right now, drivers often have to stop at a Tim Horton's and leave the passengers on the bus, then wait in line for single-stall facilities, Tuck said. Not only does that make the timing unpredictable, but passengers think the drivers are just in there standing around idly.
"People say, 'You were getting a coffee for 15 minutes,' when really they were waiting for someone to get out of the washroom," he said. "It makes people late for work and miss connections."
Tuck said it was a sticking point during negotiations, and it was frustrating.
"They don't factor in any other negotiations, the cost of supplying washrooms at any other facility in the city."
In 2018, a bus driver was fired for urinating out of a bus door.