COVID-19 Complications Led to Muni Operator’s Death

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SFMTA Operator Dead from Coronavirus Infection

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency administrators and local union officials confirmed the death of a Muni operator due to COVID-19 complications.

According to Jeffrey Tumlin, Transportation Director of the SFMTA stated that the said driver filed a long-term leave since the pandemic began earlier this year. Tumlin notified the public of the news through a YouTube announcement that in recent months, the operator has not interacted with anyone. Due to privacy reasons and the operator’s family’s request, both Tumlin and Transport Workers Union Local 250-A president Roger Marenco declined to identify and name the dead driver. Additionally, Marenco lamented that the MTA and TWA families felt sorry for the terrible loss of one of their union members.

Tumlin further announced that the family relatives of the driver asked to mourn their loved one’s passing in peace and didn’t gave his name to the masses. Moreover, Tumlin expressed his sympathies and condolences for the operator’s household’s loss in the middle of the ongoing pandemic across the state.

Muni Operators’ Positive COVID-19 Cases Count and Tumlin’s Pandemic Advice for Employees

Moreover, Tumlin reported over 90 Muni employees obtained coronavirus infections as their positive test results got released on Tuesday. He described that in almost all COVID-19 cases, the affected laborers described feeling moderate symptoms of the virus.

Despite the tragic loss, Tumlin assured through news media that Muni administrators conduct thorough contract tracing in every positive case the company comes across with their employees. Moreover, he advised that anyone who came close to people infected with the coronavirus should self-quarantine for 14 days. After adhering to the strict return-to-work procedures and quarantine measures imposed by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control, Tumlin clarified that the impacted staff members could return to work.

Additionally, Tumlin urged laborers to celebrate the upcoming holiday gatherings indoors to ensure their families’ health and safety from the raging pandemic. Despite sounding antagonistic with the reminder, Tumlin clarified that they would not hold holiday work parties this year in Muni.

Since the pandemic’s arrival earlier this year, Muni has established additional precautionary measures within the municipality. The safety guidelines include skipping stops if vehicles become too congested and frequently sanitizing cars and other high-touch exteriors.

San Francisco Operators’ and Riders’ Complaints on Overcrowding in Public Vehicles

In September of this year, several San Francisco bus operators complained to the media that as the number of passengers riding the public buses increases, the city isn’t doing much to safeguard both operators and riders’ health. 

After KPIX5 conducted multiple interviews in public transportation spots, many passengers and drivers complained about congestion happening inside buses. The previously mentioned observations contrast that of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s latest assurance of closely monitoring bus lines every day in San Francisco. 

Along with interviewing several drivers and passengers, KPIX5’s team of reporters boarded one of the public buses. According to them, it was impossible to find six-feet of free space inside, starting from the vehicle interior’s front, middle, and back spots.

One anonymous operator declined to reveal his identity to the media. During an interview, he described to KPIX5 his everyday experiences as a bus driver. According to the operator, he worries more about passengers’ safety due to their seats’ proximity while onboard the public transport automobile. As of late, at least 37 SMFTA operators tested positive for having the coronavirus.

SMFTA Public Transportation Safety Protocols

In response to the escalating problem, SMFTA established safety guidelines by limiting the passenger capacity of one bus to 20-30 people, including disinfecting its buses once per shift. Additionally, SMFTA also grants its drivers the choice to bypass stops if they deemed the vehicle already overcrowded and drop off passengers a little far from the designated bus stop if that checkpoint has many waiting riders. 

However, operators still believe that they think the city is not doing a good job implementing the given safety guidelines despite the measures.