Ride-hailing drivers urge JFK to answer when nature calls.
Ride-hailing drivers are urging JFK to answer when nature calls as there currently are no bathrooms available in the ride-hail lot. (iStock)

Updated 2:50 p.m.: After more than a year of campaigning and six months after a petition was filed, drivers for ride-hailing services will have a designated spot to relieve themselves at JFK International Airport.

 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport, has added port-a-potties in the ride-hail lot where drivers wait for passengers.

 

“This temporary solution provides drivers with some much-needed relief,” a statement from the Independent Drivers Guild said.

 

Added Uber spokeswoman Danielle Filson, “For more than a year, Uber has been urging the Port Authority to allow us to pay for bathrooms at JFK because drivers should never be subject to these conditions.”

 

While this is a step in the right direction, the IDG said it will “continue to push for a restroom or restroom trailer with running water.” 

Original story, June 30, 5 a.m.: Most New Yorkers likely have easy access to restrooms when nature calls while they’re at work, but that’s not the case for the many drivers of ride-hailing services who find themselves at JFK International Airport.

If a driver waiting for passengers in JFK’s ride-hail lot needs to use a restroom, they must forfeit their spot in line or rely on restaurants, where they likely will have to make a purchase to be able to use the facilities.

“We’re not asking for the world; it’s human decency,” Uber driver Michele Dottin told Metro.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees JFK, said via email that "these drivers do have access to restroom facilities" via the central taxi hold lot, but did echo that they are "concerned about losing their place in line."

"While Uber is telling [drivers] their spots are secured, Uber and the Port Authority are seeking to install portable toilets in the limo lot and cellphone lot at JFK for the drivers’ convenience," the agency said. 

The JFK bathroom situation has been an issue since Dottin began driving for Uber 16 months ago. Six months ago, the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents more than 50,000 drivers like Dottin, started a petition to urge JFK to provide restrooms in the ride-hail lot.

The petition, which currently has 1,692 of its 3,200-signature goal, called the situation “grim” and said that “half-filled bottles of questionable origin and odor litter the cellphone lot, where the only place to go to the bathroom currently is a section of the parking lot where there are a few anemic bushes.”

Dottin said she does see male drivers taking advantage of what little greenery there may be to relieve themselves, but considering that JFK has The ARK, the world’s first privately owned terminal for animals, she asked, “How come we don’t? We are providing a service to JFK to move their passengers from the airport to their final destination, so why should we not be treated as an entity they also need?”

While there are facilities for ride-hailing drivers to use at LaGuardia Airport, the bathroom situation for them inside the city is not much different from JFK. While there are dedicated rest areas, they are just for taxi drivers.

“They can stop for an hour, shut off their cars, go do what they gotta do – we don’t have that,” Dottin said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not respond to a Metro request for comment about the drivers' petition. 

The bathroom situation at JFK is likely to get worse for ride-hail drivers now that Uber and Lyft service began on Long Island on Thursday. Previously, the services were relegated to just New York City.