SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – SFMTA officials on Monday began making cuts in several “short” lines in anticipation of upcoming staff shortages due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers.
The agency said service was suspended on some routes, including the 1 California Short, 14R Mission Rapid Short (weekends only), 30 Stockton Short and 49 Van Ness Short (weekdays only).
READ MORE: COVID: 3 Bay Area counties relax indoor mask rules in early November
“We have made the difficult decision to cut the additional short line service, as it can be temporarily discontinued without compromising access to stops or connections along the entire route” officials said in a statement last week.
SFMTA officials said customers could experience additional overcrowding and longer wait times.
âThe bus was taking a little longer than usual,â Michael Looking said Monday afternoon while waiting for a bus from Muni. “Usually early in the morning that’s not a problem.”
The public transport agency had warned users of “notable service interruptions” from November, noting that 275 of the agency’s 6,000 employees had not yet been vaccinated or disclosed their vaccination status. October 18.
However, by the last week that number had dropped significantly.
âWe have been able to brief our members on what is happening citywide, statewide and nationwide regarding COVID-19 vaccines,â said Roger Marenco of Local 250-A of the Transport Workers Union at KPIX 5 on Thursday. âAnd we were able to drastically reduce our numbers. I think it’s less than 100 at the moment.
The agency reported that 110 transit operators had not worked on Monday because they were not fully vaccinated or had not reported their vaccination status. This figure also includes those seeking an exemption for the vaccine requirement. Some of those workers will receive paid time off as their request is processed, according to Mareno.
âIt has an extremely negative ripple effect in the sense that if an operator isn’t here for some reason then it’s a bus or a train,â he said.
While some passengers shared that the buses seem more crowded than usual on recent trips, the agency says they are not concerned about the potential increase in viral infections on their buses or trains.
READ MORE: Retail forecast is bright as holiday shoppers return to high-end stores and malls
âMuni is one of the safest places to avoid and spread the virus,â said Jeffrey Tumlin, executive director of SFMTA. âOvercrowding on public transport does not appear to be a major source of the spread of COVID. “
Infectious disease experts say bikers should always be careful even if they live in a city with a high vaccination rate and that this mandate ensures that workers they come into contact with in Muni will meet safety requirements.
âThere is a good chance that you are in good company with people protected from COVID,â said Dr. Annette Regan of the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of San Francisco. “Public transport is one of those places where we know as much as we try, unfortunately we are not always able to maintain that six foot distance and that is why I would not back down on the port of the mask.”
On Monday afternoon, the agency tweeted that passengers on a number of bus lines – the 22, 24, 29, 43 and 45 – could see delays “due to multiple coaches not in service on each route. “.
ATTN: 22, 24, 29, 43 and 45 may experience extended wait times this afternoon and early evening due to the absence of multiple coaches on each route.
– SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) November 1, 2021
The agency also said staff shortages due to the warrant could affect the parking enforcement.
The SFMTA said it did not have a specific timeline on when service would be restored, but said it continued to work with operators to adjust their vaccination status and that new operators were being hired and trained. . Tumlin said he hopes service will improve by the end of the week due to this particular staff issue.
City immunization policy requires all employees to be fully immunized by November 1, 10 weeks after the Food and Drug Administration gives full approval to at least one of the licensed vaccines.
Dr Regan encouraged passengers to see if they can be flexible in their schedule and wait for a bus later or try to take a trip earlier to avoid crowded buses. A suggestion that some have already started to practice.
âThe buses were packed, especially coming from downtown, from the financial district,â Zorah Baptista said. âOh yeah, I’ve waited a few times to take a few different buses just because I’m not going to risk getting on a crowded bus, even when I’m wearing two masks. “
NO MORE NEWS: 3 arrested in connection with the murder of woman Carmel by Fairfield
Shawn Chitnis contributed to this report.