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Unvaccinated Muni operators cause service gaps as mandate deadline passes

More than 100 Muni operators were off the job Monday as the deadline for San Francisco’s city employee vaccination mandate came and went.

Jeffrey Tumlin, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency director of transportation, said at Tuesday’s board meeting that about 98 percent of the agency’s employees were either fully or partially vaccinated by the deadline.

As of Monday, 98 SFMTA employees had either not been vaccinated or had not provided vaccination status. Another 96 employees were in the process of seeking an exemption.

Tumlin said:

“That means that we have a significant number of workforce that were not able to show up for work on Monday morning, and this impacted, particularly, our transit service and our parking control functions rather significantly.”

He said the agency and City Attorney’s Office are working to quickly process exemption requests, adding that employees who are denied exemptions still have an opportunity to get vaccinated and return to work.

In anticipation of Monday shortages, Tumlin said the agency planned service cuts to minimize rider impact, adding:

“What we did is we cut some high frequency short runs of our longer runs, like the 30-Stockton and the 14-Mission. So, we were still able to provide abundant service on those corridors.”

Other short runs cut from service included the 1-California and 49-Van Ness/Mission, the SFMTA wrote on its website. Tumlin said passengers may experience crowding on affected corridors through the week.

In an effort to fill service gaps, Tumlin said the agency is offering incentives for operators willing to work overtime shifts.

If a significant number of operators do not return to work due to the vaccination requirement, Tumlin said Muni service recovery plans could be delayed by several months despite efforts to hire and train additional operators. A new class of operators will graduate Friday.

Additionally, Monday saw a shortage of 38 parking control officers. The agency planned ahead of time to suspend and reduce some parking enforcement operations.

The Mayor’s Office said Friday that 98 percent of The City’s workforce had been vaccinated.

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