Rideshare drivers expose deplorable condition of portable toilets at San Antonio International Airport

City calls situation ‘unacceptable,' shifts blame to vendor in charge of maintaining toilets

Rideshare drivers expose deplorable condition of portable toilets at San Antonio International Airport
Rideshare drivers expose deplorable condition of portable toilets at San Antonio International Airport

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio International Airport officials have promised to take action after the KSAT 12 Defenders were provided photos and videos of the unsanitary conditions area rideshare drivers are forced to endure when using portable toilets at the airport’s official rideshare lot.

The lot, located at the corner of International Street and Northern Boulevard, has a row of port-a-potties for drivers to use while taking customers to and from the airport.

Rideshare drivers have complained about the condition of portable toilets at San Antonio International Airport. (KSAT)

The footage shows toilets that have overflowed with raw sewage and chemicals on the floor, urinals that appear to be covered in dry, crusted urine and handwritten notes imploring officials to do a better job of keeping the toilets clean.

“People in the jail get better facilities than the rideshare drivers,” said Michael, a rideshare driver who said he is forced to use the port-a-potties two to three times a day. “It’s pretty sad. The city can provide better facilities.”

City officials have vowed to address the condition of the portable toilets at San Antonio International Airport. (KSAT)

As a comparison, Michael provided the Defenders videos of the facilities for rideshare drivers who take people to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

That airport has an actual brick-and-mortar building with restrooms inside.

San Antonio International Airport officials did not respond to multiple requests to provide an interview for this story.

A woman working for the company that provides and cleans the portable toilets, Cortez Liquid Waste Services, said on the telephone she was not made aware of issues with the port-a-potties until Jan. 21, the same day the Defenders reached out to airport officials about the toilets.

A handwritten message expresses the need to clean a portable toilet inside the city's airport rideshare parking lot. (KSAT)

The employee said the port-a-potties were on the schedule to be cleaned every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and that after an airport official contacted a Cortez field supervisor, the entire units were switched out.

An airport spokesman released the following statement late last week:

Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. The condition of the port-a-lets was unacceptable and we acted immediately to correct the issue and hold the vendor accountable for meeting their contractual obligations.

Per the terms of the contract, Cortez Liquid Waste is required to ensure all units are clean, in good mechanical condition and must be serviced thoroughly, at least twice, and up to four times per week. It does not appear that level of service was occurring. We were unwilling to accept the cleanliness of the facilities and had Cortez replace all six of the port-a-lets. They delivered six replacement port-a-lets late Tuesday afternoon.

The minimal effort of restocking supplies and replacing chemical treatments does not fulfill the parameters of the contract – and we will continue to enforce our expectations of the overall cleanliness of the port-a-lets and their compliance with the full extent of the contract.

We have also directed that they increase the daily services and cleaning of the port-a-lets to four times per week, and we will determine if additional servicing is required. We will also look at adding additional port-a-lets, based on the usage by ride-share drivers.

Because Cortez was not living up to the standards and expectations of the contract, we did not pay any additional fees or incur any additional charges to replace the port-a-lets.

Lastly, we are placing signs in the area with a contact number to the appropriate airport personnel, if patrons have issues with the facilities, they can contact us directly so we can immediately address their concerns. The Airport had not received any complaints within the past 18 months prior to you bringing this to our attention.

Again – thank you for bringing this to our attention. Providing a safe, secure and sanitary environment for our ride-share partners is important to us.

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy-nominated photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.