As forewarned earlier this month, Muni is having to curtail some bus service due to a number of drivers who have refused to be vaccinated, or who will not be fully vaccinated by the November 1 deadline — but the route cutbacks are fairly minor.
In a Wednesday blog post, the SFMTA said that several "short" routes would be temporarily suspended starting next week to address the shortage of drivers. These are shortened loops of longer bus routes meant to improve frequency, and this means that these bus lines will have frequency impacts. Being suspended, for now, are the 1-California Short, 14R-Mission Rapid Short (weekdays only), 30-Stockton Short, and 49-Van Ness Short (on weekends only). These cuts, the agency said, are meant to reduce further systemwide impacts.
"The long routes on these lines will continue to operate, connecting customers where they need to go," the SFMTA says. "There will be no cancellation of any Muni routes in response to staffing challenges associated with the city’s vaccine mandate."
Back in the first week of October, SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin said there were around 300 Muni operators — light-rail operators and bus drivers — who had not yet provided proof of vaccination under the city's mandate for all workers. At that point they had about a week to go get a Johnson & Johnson shot if had not gotten any shots yet, in order to qualify as fully vaccinated by November 1.
It sounds like a number of Muni operators did get their vaccines, or submit information about previous vaccination, because SFMTA Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum told the agency board's Policy and Governance Committee this week that 95 operators are still unvaccinated, so that means two-thirds of the previous group sucked it up and got shots.
As with the vaccine holdouts in police department and elsewhere, the city will now have hearings for each unvaccinated employee seeking an exemption. And those who don't qualify for exemptions and who still refuse to be vaccinated will face termination.
The SFMTA says they do not have a "precise timeline" for when the above routes will be able to be fully restored, and the agency says it will "continue to work with our operators to address their vaccination status so that they can return to work as quickly as possible."