Portable toilets have finally been installed for Uber and Lyft drivers at JFK, according to Port Authority officials.
For nearly a year, for-hire drivers, such as those for Uber and Lyft, have campaigned for bathroom facilities at cell phone lots where they wait for ride requests from airline passengers.
A member of the Independent Drivers Guild said the group has been motioning for a permanent set of toilets with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which run the airport, since August 2016. The group is an affiliate of the Machinists Union, the world’s largest airline and aerospace union.
“No workers should have to suffer years without a restroom facility. This step is a testament to the power of drivers coming together with one voice to demand action,” e-hail driver Michele Dottin told Gothamist in a statement.
Previously, the lack of lavatory options forced drivers—particularly men—to relieve themselves outside. Drivers told The New York Times that they resorted to urinating behind their cars or on grassy patches, but, “As a female, we don’t have that option,” Dottin said.
While there are bathrooms at nearby gas stations and at the Central Taxi Hold lot for traditional cab drivers, leaving the lot to use those facilities means losing one’s place in line.
“If you leave the parking lot area and lose your position after you’ve been waiting there three hours, all that time is wasted,” driver Sohail Rana explained to the New York Times.
Drivers see the porta-potties at JFK as a step in the right direction; they emulate portable toilets set up in the cell phone lot at LaGuardia. However, drivers are calling for even more.
“This is a temporary solution and we will continue to urge the Port Authority to put in place a restroom with running water as soon as possible,” Dottin told Gothamist.
Along with hygiene, running water is crucial to the many drivers who are practicing Muslims. Their religious ritual requires them to wash their hands and face before they pray five times per day. Currently, drivers bring their own water or share with each other. There is also a communal rug for prayer kept in a plastic bin on the lot.