Uber drivers: JFK airport lacks sufficient bathroom access

AMNY | Vin Barone

When drivers for Uber need to use the bathroom at John F. Kennedy Airport, they reverse-park their car in the Cell Phone Lot, pop the trunk and turn to the lot’s chain link fence.

It’s the most discreet way for a male driver to relieve himself without leaving the airport entirely and sacrificing his spot on the lengthy, Uber pick-up queue. And if you’re a woman, forget it.

“It’s barbaric,” said Valerie Brathwaite, a Jamaica, Queens, resident who has driven for Uber for two years, during a recent trip to the lot. “Obviously, there is no place for a woman to relieve herself when she’s waiting for a ride. If you leave, then you lose your place.”

Accessing a restroom has always been challenging for cabbies and black car drivers in New York City. They often have to weigh missing out on fares, or possibly collecting a hefty parking ticket to find a restroom.

Recently, the surge of drivers for Uber and Lyft has presented new problems on this front—particularly at regional airports, like John F. Kennedy and Newark, where there are facilities for taxi drivers, but no options for the growing number of black car drivers.

“Uber drivers are so new that the infrastructure hasn’t caught up,” said Ryan Price, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, a Machinists Union affiliate that represents the company’s drivers in New York City.

The guild launched a petition Thursday to rally for bathroom access at JFK. Price said the guild has requested the Port Authority to install and maintain some form of portable restroom in the Cell Phone Lot.

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