Rideshare drivers are rejoicing with sweet relief, now that they have portable toilets at the Bradley International Airport cell phone waiting lot.
They've been placed in the lot after drivers complained about not having bathrooms and airport officials say there were “unfortunate sanitary circumstances,” adding a burden on their staff.
“I'm so happy. I'm smiling right now. Thank you for everybody. We work hard and you guys helping us a lot for that,” said Abubakar Adam, a New Haven rideshare driver.
He was one of many Uber and Lyft drivers protesting for better conditions during a driving rally last week, including the lack of access to bathrooms in the lot.
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“Because if we leave the cue, we will be put in the back of the line again,” said German Franco, a Newington rideshare driver.
Both apps require you stay in the lot to keep your spot in line among other drivers.
While drivers tell NBC Connecticut Lyft does allow a five-minute grace period, it’s usually not enough time to find a place to use the loo, park and get back to their other business.
“Like thirty cars waiting and if you miss your spot, you go to the back of the line, so it's very helpful to have a bathroom here. Definitely,” Franco said.
Since the drivers’ rallying caravan to the State Capital last week, the airport has made a concession, putting portable toilets in the lot.
“The reality is, for the most part, the drivers should not be in that cell phone lot for long periods of time,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
On Friday, Dillon said they were still evaluating putting these toilets in the lot.
“It is something we’re going to look into simply because some drivers, not all drivers, but some drivers, have created unfortunately some unsanitary conditions in our cell phone lot," Dillon said.
Drivers didn’t shy away from sharing prior situations with NBC Connecticut.
Two drivers told us they used to urinate in cups or bottles while waiting in the lot.
“We had too. There's no other choice,” Franco said.
“We have a lot of people handicapped. Can’t even get out of car, so you're sitting here for six hours. What's the person supposed to do?” Adam said.
Adding to drivers’ frustrations, passengers have to pay a $2.25 fee to Bradley through their Uber and Lyft charge if they’re dropped off or picked up at the airport. CAA tells us it goes to maintaining it.
“Because that infrastructure is what’s generating the passengers that Uber and Lyft benefit from, so it’s simply their fair share to balance the cost of the airport,” Dillon explained.
Those fees are more the reason drivers say they deserve bathrooms.
“We doing rides 24/7. If it wasn't for us, these people would be stranded in the airport. They need us,” Adam said.
Dillon said CAA is currently evaluating whether rideshare drivers will use the airport's new ground transportation center for their staging and facilities.
Until then, Adam said, “It's a start. Thank God right now we have a bathroom.”