Metro Transit hiring 'bathroom czar' to solve potty problem

SEATTLE -- King County officials hope to flush their potty problems with hiring of a new bathroom czar.

The so-called "Comfort Station Coordinator" will be responsible for finding easily-accessible restrooms for roughly 2,600 bus drivers throughout the county.

"It's not just somebody running around telling drivers where they can pee. We have an obligation under the law. We take it really seriously," said Jeff Switzer, a spokesman for Metro Transit. "2,600 operators keep this community, keep this economy moving."

The agency came under fire in November after an audit by the state Department of Labor and Industries found drivers were not provided with unrestricted access to restrooms. Some drivers said they wore diapers because they felt pressure to stick to their scheduled routes.

"If there's not a bathroom there, we have to kind of hold it until we can find one," said Kenny Troy, a Metro Transit driver for 10 years. "Because of the uniform, most people are pretty nice to us. They'll let us use them."

On Monday, the agency sent a letter to the state highlighting changes it has made since being cited in November.

A number of new bathrooms have been added to the list of those available to drivers, ranging from a golf course in Renton to the Bed, Bath, and Beyond store in Downtown Seattle, officials said. Metro has also hired an interim bathroom czar.

"It's our job to make sure they have access to restrooms, so when we're driving commuters, when we're driving passengers downtown, bus drivers can also stop and use the bathroom, too," Switzer added.

Metro is accepting applicants for the full-time comfort coordinator job through March 5th. Salary could pay as much as $97,000, depending on the employee's experience.

Switzer said the salary was comparable to other managerial positions, requiring a number of years of experience.

Troy argued it'd be money well-spent.

"We used to have a porta-potty. It wasn't too sanitary," he said. "Now we're able to use the Y. We feel a lot more comfortable now."