Lextran drivers face unfair bathroom edicts

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On Dec. 9, Gov. Matt Bevin asked those in attendance at a news conference the following questions: “Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom? Seriously. Have you heard of one person in Kentucky having trouble taking care of business in Kentucky?”

These were asked referencing suggested legislation regarding transgenders’ use of public restrooms.

Why yes, governor, I have. I know 110 to be exact. They are the hard-working men and women who drive buses for Lextran. While my answer may be a bit off topic from the discussion he was having, I figured since he asked, why not answer?

Bus operators at Lextran have been told for months by management when and where they can use restroom facilities. This includes strongly worded messages over the company’s electronic monitoring and communications system, and verbal directives from supervisors. Operators have also been told that their bathroom breaks will be timed, and discipline may be imposed for taking too long.

Now, imagine having to take a 10-minute walk to the nearest facility. Is that excessive? Yes, it is.

The run schedules do not allow enough time for drivers to use a restroom even when one is readily available. Schedules have not been changed to reflect the reduction in the speed limit within the city. Drivers are expected to maintain the same schedule and running time, and relieve themselves when they reach the end of the line.

The Lextran board has been made aware of this problem. When they asked management about the schedules and bathroom breaks, they were told that the schedules had time built in for drivers to use the bathroom. There was little time before the speed limit was changed. There can be more than a dozen drivers waiting to use one bathroom at the Transit Center at the same time. If there was not enough time before the speed limit change, how can there be now?

Bus drivers are afraid to keep themselves hydrated out of fear of not being able to use the restroom. Some have medical conditions that may require more frequent use. All are afraid to ask for fear of being turned down. If one should, they are now being monitored under a stopwatch. These are conditions that no one should be subjected to.

Studies have shown that driving while needing to relieve yourself can be compared to driving under the influence. It is in the interest of public safety that laws are in place and enforced to prevent DUI. Why are we allowing the same ability-impairing conditions to be imposed on Lextran employees?

I would like to thank Bevin for asking his question. This may not be the answer anyone was expecting, but it is an answer that needs to be addressed.

Steven D. Richardson is president/business agent of ATU Local 639.