Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
154 TCRP Project F-25, âImproving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access,â was designed to characterize operator restroom access practices, limitations, impacts, and costs in public transit agencies (TAs). The goal was to answer the 14 research questions shown in Table A-1; however, as the research progressed, some questions were modified and others added. The study team carried out surveys, inter- views, and materials collection and also reviewed industry, academic, and news sources. This report reviews the methods used and the survey results. Survey, Interview, and Case Study Methods The research team reviewed the National Transit Database to develop a list of target TAs with a balanced distribution of size, mode, and location considerations. All large TAs (more than 500 vehicles in regular service) were included, with a random sampling of an equal number of small and medium agencies, for a total of 142 TAs in the United States and Canada. The sample was A P P E N D I X A Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results Transit agency size, modes, location and resources Infrastructure and capital planning Organizational structure, policies and practicies Route planning Scheduling Service delivery Ongoing evaluation and changing conditions Figure A-1. Operations and restroom access impact points.
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 155 adjusted to make sure that there was at least one TA from each U.S. state and Canadian province. A research assistant identified the contact information for the senior executives at each agency, combining information provided by the panelâs APTA liaison with an online search of transit databases, agency websites, and other sources to complete the outreach list. The principal investigator sent email invitations to these contacts. After 2 weeks, leadership from APTAâs Bus & Paratransit CEOs, Bus Operations, Bus Safety, Mid-Size Operations, Rail Safety, and Small Operations Committees, the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), and the Canadian Urban Transport Association (CUTA) were asked to remind their members to respond to the survey. This request appeared to increase the rate of response significantly. The leaders of the four largest unions representing transit workers were asked to invite their local union affiliates to respond to the labor version of the survey. Background What is the extent of current and anticipated labor shortages and transit operator availability? Conditions How prevalent is inadequate restroom access for transit operators ? Conditions What characterizes the problem (health, access constraints, safety, differences by gender, dignity concerns, etc.)? Conditions Are there differences in restroom access by mode, operating environment, operator needs, etc.? Health How does inadequate restroom access affect medical condition incidence and treatment? How is this documented ? Policies and practices What are current policies regarding restroom breaks ? Policies and practices What steps have transit agencies taken to improve access ? Policies and practices What are examples of best practices? (Includes practices, policies, metrics.) Policies and practices Do current route planning, scheduling, and operations management practices account for feasible access? Evaluation and costs How is this addressed in any human factor analysis, accident investigations, etc.? Evaluation and costs What are the costs that arise (or could arise) from a lack of adequate access? (Categories and, where possible, value estimates or other parameters.) Field Research Question Background What are the demographics of the transit workforce? Background What is the nature and extent of healthcare and medical qualification issues? Evaluation and costs What is the range of capital and operating costs of adequate access ? Research questions: What are the demographics of the transit workforce? What is the nature and extent of healthcare and medical qualification issues? What is the extent of current and anticipated labor shortages and transit operator availability? How prevalent is inadequate restroom access for transit operators ? What characterizes the problem (health, access constraints, safety, differences by gender, dignity concerns, etc.)? Are there differences in restroom access by mode, operating environment, operator needs, etc.? How does inadequate restroom access affect medical condition incidence and treatment? How is this documented? How is this addressed in any human factor analysis, accident investigations, etc.? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. What are current policies regarding restroom breaks? 10. What steps have transit agencies taken to improve access? 11. What are examples of best practices? (Includes practices, policies, metrics.) 12. Do current route planning, scheduling, and operations management practices account for feasible access? 13. What are the costs that arise (or could arise) from a lack of adequate access? (Categories and, where possible, value estimates or other parameters.) 14. What is the range of capital and operating costs of adequate access? Table A-1. Original research questions.
156 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access The survey data were collected via SurveyMonkey and downloaded as a Microsoft Excel file for analysis. Respondents were also provided with a Microsoft Word document to fax or email back, and these data were entered manually. Opportunities for respondents to enter their own text responses were provided for some questions. This text was coded according to a combined approach that centered on the projectâs 14 research questions and emergent categories that the research team found relevant for rest- room access. These qualitative data provided nuanced interpretations of the quantitative data collected in the majority of the survey and were critical in shaping subsequent data collection and interpretation. After about 100 survey responses were received, the research team reviewed the data for a first round of interview targets. These were selected among those who had completed the survey in some detail, were actively engaged in addressing restroom access concerns, agreed to be contacted, and, if possible, had both TA and local union (LU) responses. Email invitations were sent to 20 TAs and LUs, with two telephone follow-up calls. The interview data were tran- scribed and deidentified, then coded for primary findings concerning good practices. Case studies were generated on the basis of additional interview data collection. Upon review of the first round of interview data, the research team selected second-round interview targets. These were selected according to several criteria: agencies practicing model approaches to pro- viding restroom access, agencies that grapple with common restroom access issues, agency size, geographic distribution, and agency interest in further collaboration. Corresponding LUs were also interviewed. Second-round interview questions addressed any gaps in information or clari- fications needed. Data were transcribed and detailed assessments were once again made accord- ing to the projectâs research questions. Key interpretations about each agency were also made and discussed with the research team. Additional patterns across agencies were also documented and informed the development of good practices and tools. The initial survey data are reviewed here in the context of the core research questions included in the original request for proposals. On the basis of these results, the project team developed a guide and tools to help TAs manage restroom access effectively. Transit Agency Size, Modes, Location, and Resources Sources Survey Response Responses were received from 35 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces, with the wide dis- tribution shown in Figure A-2. There were 29 responses from local union respondents (LURs) and 85 from transit agency respondents (TARs) for a total of 100 distinct TAs. Of the 100 distinct TAs, 25% were large (more than 500 buses in service), 36% were medium- sized (100â500 buses), and 38% were small (less than 100 buses). Bus service was provided by 98 TAs. This included all the TARs; however, two of the LURs represented paratransit opera- tions only. As shown in Figure A-3, 91 of the 100 TAs described in the surveys included urban areas, with almost half in urban areas only; 15% provided urban, rural, and suburban service. Bus service was provided by 113 of the TAs, fixed guideway by 29, and paratransit service by 81. TA survey respondents included 26 top-level managers, including general managers (GMs) and chief executive officers (CEOs); 47 assistant GMs and directors of service; and 10 others, including planners, safety officers, and human resources. LUs were represented by 23 elected
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 157 officers (presidents, a vice president, and secretary treasurers) and two each of business agents, shop stewards, and trustees. The research team was able to schedule 21 follow-up interviews with 45 representatives from 15 TAs. Transit Operator Characteristics TCRP F-25 Research Question: What are the demographics of the transit workforce? The surveys asked for estimates of the demographic makeup of the workforce. Table A-2, listing the average and range of these estimates, shows that while the majority of the transit employees in these TAs were men, the proportion of men to women varied widely. Similarly, Figure A-2. Distribution of completed surveys. Urban Suburban Rural Figure A-3. Urban, suburban, and rural coverage.
158 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access the age of the operators ranged widely among TAs. The average proportion of middle-aged operators (age 40â55 years) was 43%; in some TAs, as many as 87% of operators will reach eligible retirement age in the next 15 years. The national transit workforce is notably older than the workforce as a whole: 30% of all U.S. workers were older than 55 in 2016, but these made up 67% of employees in bus service (including school bus) and urban transit (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017a). The median age was 42.2 in all workers and 51.3 among bus service and urban transit workers. These workers often stay longer at work than those in other sectors: The median number of years of tenure is higher for public sector employees (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017b). TCRP F-25 Research Question: How prevalent is inadequate restroom access for transit operators? What characterizes any problems? Are there differences in restroom access by mode, operating environment, operator needs, etc.? Not surprisingly, given the voluntary nature of the data collection, all respondents took rest- room access very seriously. Figure A-4 shows the great majority felt it to be serious or one of the most important issues. The average importance rating for TARs was slightly higher than that for LURs (3.96 com- pared with 3.52 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being ânot at all importantâ and 5 being âone of the most importantâ; all respondent average = 3.85). In follow-up, it became clear that some, at least, of the LURs thought the question meant âto your employerâ rather than âto transit operators.â In addition, TARs who did take the problems seriously were probably also more likely to respond to the survey invitations sent by the research team. LURs, who were responding to requests from trusted international union Not at all 2% Not very 7% Medium 16% Serious 46% One of the most important 29% Figure A-4. How important is restroom access at your transit agency? Estimate Average (%) Range (%) Female 38 12â77 <40 years 28 5â70 40â55 years 43 20â75 56â65 years 24 0â87 >65 years 7 0â35 Table A-2. Workforce demographics.
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 159 leaders, may have done so even if the issue was not as important to them. In support of the former interpretation, LURs reported that restroom access was a problem more frequently than TARs (average = 3.45 and 2.89, respectively, with 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, and 4 = frequently). In addition, in the 14 pairs of TAs with both labor and management responses, the TAR rating in each pair was not statistically different for importance and was lower for how often RA is an issue. Restroom access was considered a problem on specific routes (74%), at specific times (65%), and for specific operators (35%). Issues were described in two main areas: the availability of adequate restroom facilities at regu- larly scheduled locations and accessing restrooms as needed during scheduled running time. Overall, transit operators had the most trouble accessing restroom facilities at the ends of lines that were not associated with a transit property or with a large commercial location such as a mall. Smaller transit hubs and transfer points also posed problems, as did systems where the main transit facilities closed before the end of bus service. Respondents reported how often transit operators could access restrooms when they needed to in eight different situations: before or after runs, at hubs, at layover points, at designated stops along routes, unscheduled along routes, and with or without passengers on the vehicle. Access was considered inadequate if rated as never, rarely, or sometimes. Adequate access was defined as usually or always. As shown in Figure A-5, inadequate restroom access is most com- mon at designated locations along the bus routes (47% of bus operators do not have access at designated points, 34% of fixed guideway operators and 44% of paratransit operators) and at layover points (37%, 28% and 23%, respectively). However, the great majority reported being able to make unscheduled stops and to use restrooms before and after runs and at hubs. Opera- tors are much less likely to be able to use a restroom with passengers on the bus than without. Access to restrooms for fixed guideway operators is similar, although overall they have better access. They are less likely than bus or paratransit operators to be able to make unscheduled stops (28% vs. 15% and 12%, respectively). Paratransit operatorsâ access to restrooms is similar to that of bus operators. They are least likely to be able to access a restroom when they have passengers in the vehicle (59%). Waiting for a restroom. Respondents were asked about how often operators have to delay needed restroom access. While most transit operators do not always have long periods without restroom access, the waits 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Bus (N=112) Fixed Guideway (N=29) Paratransit (N=81) Along Designated Routes Layovers With Passengers End of Runs At Hubs Unscheduled Stops Before Runs Without Passengers Figure A-5. When is restroom access NOT available, by mode (%)?
160 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access are frequently longer than meets comfort and attentive driving needs. Less than half of all survey respondents reported that bus drivers can usually or always access restrooms within 15 minutes of needing one, and almost 10% report that the wait is usually from 30 minutes to over an hour. Figure A-6 shows the distribution of delay frequencies for each mode. Slightly less than half of transit operators can typically access restrooms within 0â15 minutes of needing one. For one-quarter of bus operators, the wait is frequently 15â30 minutes. Only about 3% in all titles have to wait more than an hour. These data match the findings that restroom access is a problem sometimes and on specific routes or for specific drivers. Respondents were also asked about schedule recovery times, and how long it typically takes to walk from the bus location to the restrooms. Planners and managers reported providing between 10% and 20% recovery time, although some acknowledged that this time had not yet been provided in all routes. The time left to use the restroom was calculated as recovery time minus twice the walking time. On the basis of this estimate, 30% of all survey respondents report that operators frequently or always have less than 4 minutes remaining when the restrooms are within 5 minutes of the bus stop. Even where the restroom is closerâ3 to 5 minutes awayâ52% frequently or always have less than 5 minutes to spend in the restroom. This calculation assumes that the full recovery time is available. Most respondents agreed that time pressure is a consid- eration for operators and for service delivery, although they typically claimed it was not the overriding one. Our agency keeps track of the nearest available restrooms for operators at every layover, and we calculate the distance & time involved to reach them. We strive to locate layovers as close as possible to restrooms, because fast restroom access helps reduce service delays. We recognize that providing adequate layover time is in the interest of everyoneâoperators, customers, and the agencyâbecause doing so is essential to ensure strong on-time performance. LUs were more likely to feel that operations pressures took precedence. Operators may be questioned why they did not leave on time or why they stopped when already running late. I am not aware of anyone who has been disciplined in regards to restroom break, but it is frowned upon during rush times. TCRP F-25 Research Question: Differences between operators. As discussed in the health model below and reported by survey and interview respondents, age increases restroom access needs for men and women. Respondents also accepted as a given that women have specific needs in frequency and urgency of use and for privacy. No formal policies or practices that treated people differently by age or gender were described. Women 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Bus (n=112) Rail (n=29) PT (n=81) 0-15 min Usually or always 15-30 min Usually or always 30-60 min Usually or always > 60 min Usually Figure A-6. How often do operators have to wait (%)?
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 161 might, for example, be said to pick downtown routes by choice, for safety as well as restroom access. They need restroom access for menstrual cycle demands as well. No one discussed whether gender nonbinary restroom issues were a concern. Restrooms without a gender des- ignation are available frequently or always less than 15% of the time for bus and paratransit operators but only for 40% of fixed guideway operators; these are typically single-user facilities at transit locations. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What are transit restroom facilities like? Figure A-7 illustrates the proportion of survey respondents who stated that restroom are never, rarely or only sometimes physically adequate, rather than usually or always. Respon- dents reported that restrooms were almost always in compliance with sanitation standards (i.e., availability of toilet paper, soap, running water for washing hands, towels or dryers, light and heat when needed)âonly 11%â14% said the restrooms were not in complianceâand safe (10%â17% never, rarely or sometimes safe). More often, restrooms were reported to be not clean (19%â29%) or to be unsafe (10%â17%). Privacy is not always guaranteed (16%â18%). Rest- rooms may be shared with the public (33% for bus), which can lead to delays and unpleasant encounters. Portable toilets were reported to be always or usually used by transit operators in less than 5% of the TAs. A third of all survey respondents reported that restrooms were available with limitations. That includes restrictions such as locks that may make the location safer and restrooms being closed at certain hours. It was felt that single-user neutral gender restrooms or separate male and female multiuser facilities would reduce delays. Limiting restrooms to the workforce can also enhance safety and cleanliness. How does restroom access affect health, safety and operations? All survey respondents took the problems and concerns related to restroom access seriously. However, they did not report that limited access typically contributed to health issues or vehicle safety events. As shown in Figure A-8, only 17% of respondents reported that health problems occurred sometimes. Restroom-related operator stress and job dissatisfaction were reported to occur more frequently than the health issues or safety events. Operations were affected more than health or safety: sometimes (31%) or often (9%). 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Bus (N=112) Rail (N=29) Paratransit (N=81) Shared with the public Available with limits Not clean Individual privacy not guaranteed Unsafe Not In compliance with sanitation standard Portable toilets used (always or usually) Figure A-7. Limited restroom accessâpercent, by mode.
162 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access TCRP F-25 Research Question: How does restroom access affect transit operator health? How does inadequate restroom access affect medical condition incidence and treatment? How is this documented? On the whole, all survey respondents felt that health issues caused or aggravated by limited rest- room access do not occur frequently, as shown in Figure A-8. However, 37 of the 114 sources simply did not know how often these might happen. Many respondents did mention that rest- room limitations interact with health conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy or age-related changes, which cause restroom use to be more frequent or urgent. Only 6% of TARs reported that operators might sometimes fail to take prescribed medications because of driving demands, whereas 35% of LURs believe this happens. Stress and job dissatisfaction related to restroom access were more frequent: 32% of all survey respondents reporting this sometimes and 16% often. Transit operator union representatives reported serious concerns about the potential impact of limited restroom access on their health. They question whether delaying voiding can lead to urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gastrointestinal problems, and even fertility issues or cancer. They were much more likely to consider that health concerns occur that are caused or aggravated by limited restroom access (38% âsometimesâ) than were TARs (11%). However, management hears about health problems as well. We have had operators report that they have had kidney infections and bladder infections, and dif- ferent things along those lines. And then, just purely for the human side of it, knowing that just being in the seat for that long a period of time without having the ability to use a restroom facility . . . and itâs something that weâve just heard about for years now. Surprisingly few TAs (5%) reported a formal policy for addressing restroom access needs. This is an area in which TAs defers to their human resources department, which may have gen- eral accommodation policies that apply. Respondents also acknowledge that accommodation assignment created conflicts with seniority-based schedule selection rules. Under law, weâre required to accommodate if thereâs an issue. So if there is an issue then, they come in and they go see health services, and health services tells us what needs to be done. Both the employer and the union have to accommodate. If itâs not formalized, people could probably pick some work that put them in a situation where, âGee, Iâm getting to a washroom every hour as opposed to every hour and a half.â Some concerns are not health problems as such. A clean restroom with running water and light can be especially pressing for menstruating women because of the mechanics of changing 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Health (n=69) Safety (n=83) Stress (n=104) Operations (n=109) Never Rarely Sometimes Often Figure A-8. Frequency of events in each category (%).
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 163 menstrual products. Pregnancy not only increases urinary urgency, but adds needs, as one TA reported: A new issue that has recently come up is providing a room for lactation purposes. There are specific requirements which create accommodation problems, costs, and delays in relieving operator from route. In the context of public hygiene eventsâoperators urinating or defecating in places other than restrooms, whether accidently or intentionallyâthere is a wide difference in reported occurrence between TARs and LURs. As shown in Figure A-9, both acknowledged that it occurs sometimes (13% and 35%, respectively), but only LURs considered this to be often (21%). In interviews, some TARs described bus operators urinating outside even when restrooms were made available. At the same time, LURs report bus operators soiling seats because they simply could not stop driving. Whether these differences reflect a lack of knowledge on the part of the TAs or an over- estimate on the part of the LUs remains to be assessed in the next phase of this project. It is certainly the restroom access issue that receives the most press, video clips, and outrage. The behavior of the operators themselves is sometimes the problem, according to both labor and management sources: they have been known to mess up restroom facilities, urinate outside even when restrooms were made available, and treat restroom locations with less-than-adequate respect. When asked to define whether and how the impact of restroom access on operator health and safety or on operations is evaluated, less than a third of TARs reported collecting data (30%). Figure A-10, which lists the categories of data collected, shows that only 2% of the 85 TARs 0 10 20 30 40 50 TA LU Never Rarely Sometimes Often Figure A-9. Have hygiene events occurred because of lack of access (%)? 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% W or ke r c om me nt s co mp lai nt s On tim e p er fo rm an ce da ta Pa sse ng er or co mm un ity co mm en ts co mp lai nt s Ot he r d at a He alt h p lan re po rts Ac cid en t r ec or ds Figure A-10. How does the TA assess the impact of restroom access?
164 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access reported looking at health claims information related to restroom access. However, in an inter- view, an LUR reported that pressure on the union membersâ premium payments was driven in part by an excess of health problems that might be related to restroom access, including urinary tract infections. LURs overall mentioned a litany of health problems they believed to be affected by restroom access; the evidence for these are discussed in the literature review. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What is the nature and extent of healthcare and medical qualification issues? What is the extent of current and anticipated labor shortages and transit operator availability? Medical qualification issues for transit operators, healthcare costs, and retention are ongoing concerns for TAs. However, neither TAs nor LUs who responded to the survey and interviews felt that restroom access was implicated in workforce availability or retention. Interview respondents felt that operators with health issues might pick differently, if they had enough seniority. Interviewer: Do you think thereâs any chance that restroom access could affect retention? Or recruitment? Interviewee Vice President of Operations: Not so much from a health perspective. What we hear, I think more than anything, are just overall the health of our bus drivers may not be as good as other positions in transit because itâs such a sedentary position where theyâre not as activeâtheyâre behind the wheel for long hours. And we know that their insurance premiums are driven by their financial performance. And we know that that seems to be somewhat high for bus drivers just in general. But not specifically related to this issue, that Iâm aware of. And in terms of retention, I think that what we find more often than thisâmaybe people just arenât articulating it, but the newer drivers, of course, have the worst shifts and the worst hours. And it does take a lot to get seniority to be able to pick and choose what youâre able to do every day. Restroom access could drive absenteeism, although the reasons for absence might be hard to tease out. On the whole, respondents felt that recruitment and retention were so dependent on wages and workforce availability overall that this would be a minor issue. Most medical information is protected by privacy. People are very reluctant to share medical infor- mation unless theyâve got a disability that warrants an accommodation. Even then, they go through our employee health services. Theyâre very guarded in what they share with management. Itâs difficult for us to attribute that, in terms of attrition. Given the wages and the pension and the benefit that we give, I think weâre very competitive as an employer, so thereâs no problem attracting people. We have some early attrition, but thatâs usually to do with the fact that youâre the junior person in a unionized shop and you get the worst of the worst. Itâs the worst shift, youâre working weekends, youâre working holidays, and you get crappy vacation selection. Some people can wait 7 or 8 years for that to get better, but others say, well, Iâm not just going to wait 7 or 8 years. And I think the washroom is the least of it, to be honest. TCRP F-25 Research Question: How does restroom access affect transit operator and vehicle safety? How is this addressed in any human factor analysis, accident investigations, etc.? Restroom access is not thought to have a notable impact on vehicle safety, with related events reported to occur only sometimes by 10% of respondents, that is, 36% of LURs and no TARs. TAs do not evaluate possible associations between safety events and restroom access (Figure A-10), with only 2% of 85 respondents noting they reviewed accident records with restroom access in mind. In interviews, some TA respondents discussed speeding, assaults occurring around outdoor toilets, and falls caused by using outdoor toilets when the ground is icy. TCRP F-25 Research Question: How does restroom access affect transit operations? Restroom access had an impact on operations sometimes (31% of all survey respondents) or often (9%).The direct impact of restroom access needs and problems on operations were not typically explicitly addressed in TA data collection, with only 13% of TARs listing on-time per- formance data as something they measured in relation to restroom access. Service delays can result when there are not enough open restrooms for drivers on a turn- around. Restrooms shared with passengers caused transit operators to wait and sometimes led
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 165 them to forgo using the restroom so as not to delay their bus departure. A common concern was not being able to share facilities with other transit organizations at transfer points. At several TAs, the two rail terminal restrooms that had been multistall areas for men and for women were instead defined as employee and public to keep employee restrooms safer and cleaner. To avoid inadvertent sharing between sexes in this situation, the policy was to lock the entire restroom from the inside. This turned it into a de facto single-user facility, limiting access and aggravating service delays. Access to restrooms is rarely an issue for employees with other job titles. Although 97 of the 114 respondents said it was not an issue, some went on to describe problems that occur for people who work in the field or alone. Affected titles included cleaners, fuelers, controllers, dispatchers, field supervisors, on-board evaluators, schedule checkers, station agents, and fare enforcement officers. Even for maintainers, there are places where the restroom facilities are not adequate in number or are badly maintained. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What are current policies regarding restroom access? Survey respondents were asked to state if the TA had a written or informal policy or no policy on unscheduled stops, route deviations, and discipline for unscheduled breaks or delays. As shown in Figure A-11, less than half of all survey respondents reported having any written policy on restroom access. The most common policy was the procedure for contacting the control center when an unscheduled break was needed. Forty percent had a written policy on unscheduled stops and another 46% addressed it informally. All those interviewed stated that the TA policy was to allow operators to use the restroom whenever they needed it and could stop the vehicle safely. In some cases, this was covered in the collective bargaining agreement. At the same time, several TARs said that they encouraged operators to wait until scheduled layover locations and times, especially during rush hours. Some TAs allowed operators to diverge from a route if needed, but others explicitly did not allow this. Virtually all respondents agreed that operators were not to be disciplined for using restrooms or for related delays. Some mentioned that they would investigate situations where operators seemed to be taking advantage of the opportunity. Operators are allowed to make unscheduled stops if needed to access restrooms, but they are required to notify dispatch in these cases. Failure to do so, which sometimes happens, can result in discipline. Unknown whether this is a written or informal policy. Operators can be counseled or disciplined for excessive or unreasonable dwell time, especially after an investigation, but identifying these violations is not systematic. Some TAs defer to the managing companies, as described here. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 None Informal Written Call in to dispatchers Unscheduled stops Route deviations Disciplined for breaks Disciplined for delays Figure A-11. Policies related to restroom access (%).
166 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access In terms of discipline, contract operations managers may choose to maintain the same level of disci- pline actions for counseling of operators for causing trip delays [when] using the restroom. Currently [TA] is working on developing policies that will provide relief at terminals to allow operators ample time to use the restroom at metrorail stations and transit centers. Policies and practices differed at times in two main areas: operators might fail to call in as required and transit supervisors did not always prioritize operator comfort over service delivery. LURs described cases in which restroom access and the no-discipline policies were contra- vened by supervisors who wanted the operator to continue driving. TCRP F-25 Research Question: Do current route planning, scheduling, and operations management practices account for feasible access? Restroom access information is being used by more than a third of the TAs (37%) to set break or layover parameters in runcut or scheduling software. However, routes and schedules are not specifically adjusted for restroom access in almost half the TAs (45%), and written policies are not common (20% of all TAs), as shown in Figure A-12. Informal practice does allow for break or layover adjustments in almost half the locations (47%). TAs working to make restrooms available commit time and pay attention to planning initiatives: This has been years coming, but our engineers and folks that worked with them to partner on how to utilize that [transit-oriented development] area, and [TA] utilized it to leverage because they needed some of what we had, and we needed their help. They are building a brick-and-mortar bathroom, of course, at that location for our operators, easy access, as part of this whole plan. And theyâre building massive condominiums and things like that. And so, itâs a literal drop in the bucket for them. We used kind of leverage early on to get them to do that. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What are the costs that arise (or could arise) from a lack of inadequate access? Task 1. As measured currently. Only 15 of the 85 TARs reported that their TAs analyzed the costs of restroom access; another 15 did not know. Figure A-13 shows that facility costs (building or renovating restrooms, oper- ating costs of keeping restrooms open, and portable toilet contracts) were the most commonly evaluated (23%â31% of TAs). Operations costs (runcut cost analysis results, delays from unscheduled restroom use, extra run or dwell times for scheduled breaks, and routing modifi- cations for restroom accommodation) were assessed by 10%â15% of TAs. Personnel costs were evaluated by less than 10% of TAs for accommodations for specific health conditions, health 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Informal practice allows for break or layover adjustments Routes and schedules are not specifically adjusted for restroom access Operators contribute to route planning and scheduling decisions Restroom access information is used to set break or layover parameters in runcut or scheduling software A written policy directs how to set breaks or layovers Figure A-12. How does planning address restroom access (%)?
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 167 care costs for conditions caused or aggravated by limited restroom access, and combined lost time, disability, retention (surprisingly low at 7.1%). As seen frequently with other operator concerns, the health issues related to restroom access remain a hidden cost for TAs. The LURs were not asked about cost and impact measures, under the assumption that they would not have ready access to this information and, thus, their responses would be less reli- able. However, it was clear that many TARs (21 of 85) did not know if their TAs collected or analyzed this information either. These areas will be given additional focus in follow-up contacts and the case study data collection. The overall position taken by TARs is that while restroom considerations should be addressed in planning (route and capital) and scheduling, the impact and costs are often not assessed separately from contractual or mandated breaks, schedule recovery time, and capital planning. The major cost categories identified by interviewed TAs include â¢ Delays related to unscheduled use, â¢ Cost related to adapting schedules, including increased layover time, â¢ Capital costs for building restroom facilities, â¢ Contracts with businesses, and â¢ Health impact (costs encountered by LU benefits fund). Part of the process of defining costs and benefits is to establish an estimate of the value of adequate restroom access to the organization or the operators. The health economist inter- viewed recommended we ask subjects how much on the hourly rate, or how much per year, it would be worth to resolve any outstanding issues. The union response was unequivocalâthey felt that trading safe and healthy working conditions for money on the table was inappropriate. One TA who was otherwise cooperative on restroom access had proposed negotiating the cost- outs of the operatorsâ financial package, according to the LUR. Obviously every second of the day has a dollar figure accorded to it. I would argue that, what is managementâs cost for using the restroom? They use the restroom all day long too and theyâre not doing it to themselves, so thatâs why should you do it to us? TAs are willing to pay for restroom access. Many of the agencies clearly spend a significant amount in staff time to address restroom issues. One TA stated that its restroom-related capital budget was $500,000 a year. Another reported a per capita payment to businesses allowing oper- ators to use their restrooms. These value estimates and other parameters will be documented and analyzed in Phase 3, following the case study data collection. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What steps have transit agencies taken to improve access? A lot of it is the operations manager; he deals with the individual employees on the on-street perfor- mance. Iâve got my planners who need to make sure that, when they plan a route, that itâs anchored on 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Accommodations for specific health conditions Health care costs for conditions caused or aggravated by limited restroom access Personnel costs (lost time, disability, retention) Delays from unscheduled restroom use (on-time performance) Extra run/dwell times for scheduled breaks Routing modifications for restroom accommodation Runcut cost analysis Building or renovating restrooms Operating costs of keeping restrooms open Portable toilet contracts Figure A-13. Costs used to assess the impact of restroom access (%).
168 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access a washroom, on one end or the other, depending on the length of the route. Iâve got my infrastructure people to make sure that those washrooms are available because sometimes theyâre commercial facilities that have certain hours of operation. Their hours donât align with our service hours? Whatâs the Plan B? And then, from the schedulers, is to make sure that when we set the schedules, we provide an oppor- tunity at least every hour and a half, 2 hours, not to have, instead of a 2-minute, or a 3-minute recovery time on the bus route, youâve got 5 or 7 minutes every hour. You also have to look at the local geography. If it takes 2 minutes to get to the washroom and 2 minutes to get back to the bus, then 4 minutes isnât enough. They manually go back and make sure that there is time. Sometimes itâs very challenging, because youâre trying to meet a down route, a crossing between this route and that route. During rush hour, or during the week, itâs not such a big deal, but late at night and on weekends, when it opens up, itâs much more challenging to prevent a 25-minute transfer because you just missed the bus. Youâll have to give the driver extra time at the other end. So, those are the things that they have to do manually because weâre out building a grid, and transfers are required, and if the buses are frequent, itâs not a big deal, but when you get paid at night and the buses there are 30, 40 minutes apart, you just missed a transfer. [Interviewer: So whatâs the specific role of vehicle operators?] So when we post the work, it comes out on the board, everyone has a chance to look at it. They have a week to provide comments if thereâs some- thing that is a problem. You make any final changes, and then you find out the starts. So if there is a dialogue back and forth, and thereâs a specific location, and the union, on behalf of the members, raises the issue. We also have what we call our route evaluation, where an operator fills in a form that talks aboutâusually itâs about schedules. You donât have enough time here, or I canât get to the washroom because Iâm always behind. So individual operators can comment on their specific problem. The union can also raise issues from a more global point of view. The challenge for management is to address these in a meaningful way. And itâs very dynamic because routes are changing, traffic congestion is changing, and itâs inevitable that thereâs going to be trips that are late. To be honest, being an hour late is just as bad from my point of view. If a driver is running early so he can get time to go to the washroom, thatâs a bigger problem than if heâs late and has to start the next trip late because he needs to go to the washroom. So a washroom at both ends. Basically weâve provided direction to the supervisors in control. People need to go to the washroom, and itâs a basic human right and dignity. We need to stand for it. If it becomes a problem, like if some- one is taking a 30-minute break every day, whatâs going on? There must be something else. If, on the other hand, once in a blue moon they had to stop mid-route because they had an emergency. Really itâs a question of we need to be understanding that. Letâs say we have a snowstorm and everything takes forever, and the driver needs to take some extra time at the end to go to the washroom because we got in late. He needs to go to the washroom. So, weâve provided a clear direction that, people need to go to the washroom. Itâs simple. Transit agencies reported that making restroom facilities available when and where operators need them was an organizational priority. On the infrastructure side, ensuring restroom access depends on â¢ Planning routes based on the existing availability of restrooms, either on transit-owned prop- erty or other public or accessible places such as colleges, public building, or malls; â¢ Arranging with businesses along routes to ensure restroom access, establishing more or less formal agreements, including payments if needed; â¢ Building facilities, including taking advantage of transit-oriented development projects; and â¢ Installing portable toilets as a temporary or rare solution that meets sanitation standards and can be kept safe and clean. Restroom access is supported organizationally by an administrative process and a culture of health and safety that includes â¢ Establishing policies on free access, with accommodations as needed; â¢ Multichannel communication â From operators about needs and about restroom options they know of, â To operators about policies and restroom locations, and â With planners and schedulers; â¢ Enlisting alliesâexecutive level, board, passengers; â¢ Establishing organizational commitment, including training for supervisors;
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 169 â¢ Training for operators about policies and options, especially new hires; â¢ Coordinating restroom access with business and outside locationsâlocations, times, consid- erations; and â¢ Maintaining and distributing lists of restrooms (officially or less formally among operators). Finally, there are personal or individual actions. Operators were expected to â¢ Make plan to access restrooms when they couldâbefore starting a run or in identified locations where it was safe to stop the vehicle; â¢ Restrict excessive water or coffee intake; â¢ Postpone voiding until a recovery period, if at all possible; and â¢ NOT postponing to the point of discomfort or distraction. When asked, âWhat is the most effective thing done at your transit agency?â TARs and LURs described similar practices. The research team has compiled the observed practice and policy elements highlighted here into a model of good practice, laid out in detail in Task 7. Task 2. They arrange for restroom facilities at terminals and along routes. A typical, comprehensive response parallels the core of good practice as detailed later. Providing employees with latitude to make urgent, unscheduled stops if necessary; arrangements with private businesses to utilize their facilities as authorized rest stops; crew rooms at the terminals of the rail lines; providing access badges and electronic locks for Transit Center restrooms to allow access during nonbusiness hours [when buses are still running]. The TAs try to limit the impact of unscheduled use by responding quickly to call-ins and by helping operators plan. We allow operators to call in and let us know that they have to go and we either start a bus for them or give the time needed. We also talk to them about possible locations and opportunities to use the restroom. Task 3. They commit resources and personnel. The amount of attention paid, resources committed, and staff involved in addressing rest- room access concerns varied dramatically in this study sample. Service planning and opera- tions departments are involved in restroom-related decisions in slightly less than half of TAs, as shown in Figure A-14. Transit operators are commonly considered a source for information about restroom problems, and they are reported to contribute to route planning and scheduling decisions by about one-third of respondents. They contribute according to 45% of the TARs, but only 17% of the LURs. In nine of the 14 locations where both TAs and LUs responded, they agreed that operators have a role. 0 10 20 30 40 50 Figure A-14. What departments play a role in restroom access (%)?
170 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access The number of departments contributing to restroom access did not depend on the TA size, as might have been expected. Figure A-15 shows the distribution. Apart from restroom access at small TAs being most likely to be addressed by only one department, there was no clear trend. Some TAs have extensive formal committees; others call on the various departments as needed. In two of the TAs interviewed, there were designated leads on the issues, one spending 10% time and the other 100%. One important resource described by several TAs is providing a relief vehicle or driver when operators were delayed or needed a break. Driving was done by road supervisors, light rail super- vision in a station, or, in one case, by the transportation director. Staying on time can be challenging, but we use mini-buses for our field supervisors, and if thereâs an issue, typically what will happen is the field supervisor will try to pick up part of the route so the person can deal with their issue and still be on time for their next pulse in the downtown. Task 4. They consider restroom access in the context of operations and planning. In particular, planning departments and scheduling staff contribute by establishing maxi- mum times between breaks, considering restroom access in planning routes, and helping iden- tify on-route locations. When asked how restroom access policy guides planners and schedulers, TARs typically referred to a formula that planners and schedulers attempted to apply. As schedules are rewritten, 10% of run time is scheduled as layover time at the end of the line. Termi- nals are placed as much as possible within reach of a bathroom. From my understanding there is practice to ensure that stop and start locations for routes have rest- rooms at both ends. Service Planning considers restroom access in the design of new routes. [TA]âs Hourly Employment Manual provides scheduling criteria for the minimum frequency of recovery time at a location with a restroom. Planning and scheduling typically involved software. But many also had a hands-on approach. We do not use software for runcuts. We created runcuts by hand, taking into account that bus opera- tors would need to have breaks for personal needs and to allow for bus operators to catch up on the schedule. The schedule was created based on average run times at the time of day the route is being run. Then additional time was allowed at the station for buses on other routes to meet up. This process provides sufficient time for operators to take care of their personal needs. We have a route and schedule committee made up of drivers. All routes travel on major road networks and typically access transfer locations that are in range of washrooms. We used to pay business owners 0 5 10 15 N/R One Two Three Four Five Six Seven small medium large Note: N/R = no response. Figure A-15. Number of departments involved, by TA size.
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 171 to use facilities, but this is no longer the case. Operators decide when and where to stop, usually forming relationships with shop staff. We have had instances where operators have damaged relationships with business owners by being rude or making a mess. We measure the walking path distance (in feet) from every layover point (except on loop routes) to the nearest accessible restroom for operators and convert this into time, based on standard walking speeds. Time needed to access the restrooms is then informally considered during the scheduling process. Plan- ning and scheduling is handled by the same staff, so we are constantly looking for closer/more convenient restroom locations for routes with on-street layovers that rely on private businesses. In most cases, sched- uled recovery time is in excess of the time required to walk (roundtrip) to & from restrooms and spend a few minutes in the restroom. We recognize that operators have a right to use the restroom and that it is in our interest to provide sufficient time for them to do so, otherwise on-time performance (timeliness; reliability) will inevitably suffer. Many TARs were in the process of developing approaches for scheduling with restroom access in mind but not yet comprehensively applied. (This delay could account for some of the mis- match between TAR and LUR success ratingsâthe former feeling that they are doing their best, the latter not feeling the results yet.) Currently, there are no written policies guiding planners or schedulers, who create service schedules that include opportunities for restroom breaks. Bus schedules are being evaluated in coordination with contract operations managers and operators; . . . scenarios and situations where additional time is needed in the schedule to allow operators to utilize the existing restrooms at rail stations, transit centers, and terminal stops. Some described contractual or regulatory requirements for schedules. Fifty minutes of layover per each full run and 20 minutes layover for split runs. Collective Bargaining Agreementâreasonable restroom privileges, restrooms shall be provided on all routes, information regarding hours and locations are updated every service change. Restroom hours, location provided on Route of Line sheets. Restroom Book for all lines provided at Bus Operations facilities. Contract for fixed-route operators stipulates break times; contract for paratransit operators stipulates break times and lunches. Contract states that there will be facilities available on the routes for water and restrooms use. Contractual language for restroom access and recovery time at terminal. Safety was also discussed from time to time, but this section of the data has not yet been completely analyzed. As with the survey data, vehicle safety was not seen to be directly related to restroom access. Task 5. They leverage resources. TAs described many practical approaches to providing access, including establishing rela- tionships with other TAs at terminal points, coordinating with organizations such as colleges or hospitals that depend on transit for their own clients, and using internal opportunities. [The portable toilets] werenât very secure, and now weâve got these really nice . . . like a mini-mobile home in a way, with sinks and mirrors and flush toilets and all of that, and we purchase them on our own as savings within our own departments, and weâve had them for 3 to 5 years nowâsomething like thatâin two locations that we experimented with, and so far weâve been thrilled. The operators have loved them. Theyâre very comfortable. We put them right where they need to [be]. And so, we put them in the two areas that were most problematic. And, in fact, in one area that we put it, they had access to a restroom, but it was a little bit of a walk; and we found that by putting the restroom there, we were able to be more efficient in our end-of-the-line time, which actually saved us money in the long run because we didnât have to put so much in the end of the line to allow them to walk the long distance to get to the restroom, and that made us more efficient to help pay for this. Task 6. They keep communication channels open. Even when policies are established, they may not be understood by all concerned. One transit manager was surprised at the value of simply posting a memo clearly stating the TA policy that
172 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access any operator is free to stop and use a restroom as needed. This improved morale and enhanced communications between operators and dispatchers. Finding restrooms along routes is a particular problem and restroom availability often changes. This happens because businesses close or change their hours, but sometime because the host is unhappy with the operatorsâ behavior. Most TAs described an open-door policy for receiving input on problems and solutions. When shared restrooms are identified, this needs to be communicated efficiently. Memos are released. Radio calls are made frequently. We send messages through the mobile data ter- minals to the operators on the routes that are affected. If we know specific operators that it has been an issue with, weâll talk to them one-on-one as well. Really, because there are 24/7/365 operations, it has to be an ongoing communication. We canât just communicate something once and expect that it disseminates throughout the entire population. We have to do continuous reminders and continuous communica- tions when there are changes and when there are issues because the last thing we want is when a change is made for one operator to not get the information, and then weâre back in the same issue or in the same situation where we were before. Improving communications depends on organizational structure as well as individual steps. One TA described a significant rearrangement that improved coordination and enhanced com- munication with operators. It was a view of respect, of listening to employees and trying to make things better for them with the belief, which I think is true, that weâre better off in the long run as an organization and more cost-effective and better performance if we do that. Thatâs the fundamental foundation of it. Otherwise, you just look at it as a piece of paper and say, âHey, this is going to cost us $30,000 more a year to modify our route this much, and weâre just not going to do it.â And instead, we say, âWell, is there a way to do it in a way thatâs affordable?â Planning and operations didnât talk, period, and afterwards, operations planning and operations were in the same building. We have an open-door policy. Operations planners meet with the operators on pay days. We have an operations planner thatâs in the training roomâthatâs where the operators pick up their block sheetâat four oâclock in the morning every 2 weeks so operators could talk to us and tell us what was going on. We have an open-door policy that the operators come in and they tell us whatâs going on with the route. Respondents also talked about communicating with allies. Both LURs and TARs felt they sometimes needed to reach beyond their management structure, to boards or the public, with evidence about the importance of supporting restroom access for transit operators. This [saving] came from operations. We made it happen with these [portable toilets] that we pur- chased. Such a good storyâwe went and took it to the board and showed it, and the board members were excited about it. They didnât realize thereâs a problem. So they appreciate the innovative solution and cost savings and all of that. It was a real win-win. Then the rest of the executive team hears that feedback from the board saying, âThis is great. How about the rest?â There are other opportunities to do that. It suddenly starts to unlock some doors. Task 7. They expect operators to make good choices A common approach reported by both TARs and LURs was that of self-control. This appeared on a spectrum ranging from common sense to the health-challenging demands and stresses that led to the current project. And there is, sometimes, a challenge of finding a good location. Especially if a route has its end of line in a residential area, thereâs very few commercial locations that are available. What we do in that situa- tion, if the way the schedule run allows it, is to put less time in those areas, simply because we know that operators really will have no ability to use that time for themselves. And then place it in other areas in the run. Now, from the operatorsâ perspective what that means is that will adjust how they drive accordingly. But itâs maybe the best way of handling a tough situation. Experienced operators described planning for restroom access on the basis of the route, making sure to use a facility before starting a run with limited access, and paying attention to
Technical Report on Data Collection and Survey Results 173 coffee and soda intake. This was covered in new hire training or explained to novice operators by mentors or those more experienced. Sometimes the self-control approach meant adjusting water intake to take the route into account when no other option was available. This verged on unhealthy activity, at the point where operators were expected not to drink or eat adequately during the work day. The self-control approach included holding when practical, to avoid unscheduled stops, especially during rush hour. At times, the desire to provide good service, especially when the passengers can miss connections, can override a sensible choice, according to both LURs and TARs. If youâve got a driver who is proud of their on-time performance, and maybe theyâre on a piece of work that has a relatively tight schedule, and they may make the mistake of not giving themselves the relief they need. We certainly donât encourage that. We go to safety, service, and scheduleâschedule is number three in our list. So I can see where that could happen, or like in our case at nights, itâs a little more chal- lenging when you have less-frequent service. Despite this expectation, respondents repeatedly emphasized that operators restricting them- selves at the cost of their comfort or health was against policy and expected practice. TCRP F-25 Research Question: What barriers do they describe? While the TA staff participating in the surveys and interviews was, on the whole, strikingly thoughtful and attentive to the restroom issues, they often encountered a different mindset at their workplaces. LURs especially felt that restroom access was not as important to management as it should be, but many of the management subjects agreed. Transportation Director: There are some legacy individuals within this organization that kind of have that sentiment. And when we built our light rail line, one of the things that our organization has certainly prided themselves on is âahead of schedule and under budget,â and things like restrooms were kind of those things that were first to go. Operations/Operations Planning: And I think sometimes itâs difficult for people who really are not on the ground level in operations, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Sometimes itâs hard for them to understand. Itâs not even part of their world because they can go to the restroom whenever they want. Itâs a learning thing because they donât experience it firsthand. Cost is a major consideration for most TARs. However, that did not mean that they had all established a good way of measuring the costs of any health, safety, or operations issue or of addressing the costs. Several of the TARs pointed out that the costs they know ofâcontracts with businesses for access, maintenance of outside facilities, suppliesâare minuscule in the context of the TAâs budget. However, if the money comes out of a specific program or depart- ment, it may loom larger to the person controlling that pot, especially if that person does not see restroom access as a priority. Finding restrooms and keeping them available at all hours needed are major challenges. While on-route businesses may be happy to provide access, many are not, having their own operational concerns; for example, they may lock the restrooms. They often close at night, on holidays, or on academic or seasonal breaks. Nearest restrooms to on-street layovers are private businesses. Some of those, such as fast-food lobbies, close late at night, meaning midroute restroom stops may be necessary if an operator is unable to wait until reaching the other end of the route. Some of the private businesses, such as convenience stores, also require operators to obtain a key from the cashier. Many of the barriers described result from the unavoidable conflict between good service delivery and the schedule flexibility required for on-demand restroom access. Making sure the end of a line is in a place with restroom facilities is not always practical, as routes frequently ter- minate in a residential or industrial area rather than link two commercial areas or transit hubs. It is often hard to find businesses at the end of the line with restroom facilities, and bus operators prefer not to have to stop mid-route to use restroom facilities, although it is allowed.
174 Improving the Safety, Health, and Productivity of Transit Operators Through Adequate Restroom Access Summary The TAs, LUs and industry experts contributing to the project all took restroom access very seriously. They were self-selected for enthusiasm and concern. Most acknowledged significant barriers to completely resolving the conflicts between service delivery and adequate restroom access. At the same time, they had developed a wide variety of productive approaches to address- ing the needs of vehicle operators. The project report guide explores their concerns and solutions in detail. References Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017a. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Table 18b: Employed persons by detailed industry and age. 2017 annual averages. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017b. Current Population Survey. Table 5: Median years of tenure with current employer for employed wage and salary workers by industry, selected years. 2006â16.