Muni service could still be impacted next month despite hundreds of additional employees with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency having now reported being vaccinated.
Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said Tuesday at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting that 275 empkoyees remain still not in compliance with The City’s vaccination mandate. At the Oct. 5 meeting, he told directors that 640 employees had not been vaccinated or reported their status. Of those were over 300 transit operators.
While that represents mprovement from two weeks ago, about 70 transit operators have reported they are unvaccinated and 48 have not yet reported their status. Monday marked the last day for city employees to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson or the second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in order to be considered fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, the deadline for all city employees.
Tumlin said Muni service will still face service challenges if the agency cannot get more operators vaccinated by the deadline:
If we’re unsuccessful on Nov. 1, there will be additional unexpected gaps in service and lower than scheduled frequencies. As a result of this, we anticipate that NextBus predictions will be unreliable.”
Parking enforcement will also be affected come November, as 14 parking control officers are partially vaccinated and eight have reported as unvaccinated, Tumlin said. A total of 24 parking control officers have not reported their status.
The agency said they will have to partially suspend abandoned vehicle enforcement, booting and enforcement of commuter shuttles. Residential parking permit enforcement and meter enforcement will also be affected. In the worst case scenario, enforcement of disabled placards and operations at the Chase Center could also be impacted.
Muni service is already impacted due to operator unavailability, causing missed runs, especially on weekends. The agency has been unable to find operators to work overtime to fill service gaps, Tumlin said.
Starting with the week of Sept. 27, SFMTA data showed that the Kirkland division missed an average of 193 runs on the weekend. The Islais Creek division followed with an average of 162 runs missed while the Flynn division missed an average of 128 runs during weekend service.
SFMTA spokesperson Stephen Chun said the agency did graduate a class of operators in October to help fill some of the missed runs. He added that the agency is seeing high Covid-related leave from work, but expects the number of missed shifts to decrease as the California California Sick Pay and The City’s Covid-19 additional sick leave will expire by the end of month.
The SFMTA is now in the planning process of restoring 85 percent of pre-pandemic Muni service in the winter, but the plans could face a potential delay depending on the number of transit operators the agency could lose due to the vaccinate mandate and how quickly the agency can speed up its hiring process.
Tumlin said the agency is hiring and training more operators. A class of operators will graduate on Nov. 5, which would have helped restore service, but may now merely keep pace with the loss of operators who have not been vaccinated or reported their status:
We’re continuing to try to push headway management in order to smooth out missed runs, but we’re continuing to struggle and we apologize to all of our passengers who have had to wait longer than expected for their bus.”