Omicron Surge Impact on Muni Routes and Schedules
As has been reported widely in the media, the highly contagious Omicron variant has led to rapid and unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus in San Francisco. More than 100 SFMTA staff have contracted COVID since late last month. Combined with pre-existing staffing shortages, this has led to an increase in missed Muni service. We’re also experiencing staffing impacts in other job classifications, including mechanics, car cleaners and transit supervisors.
Currently, we are missing up to 15% of scheduled Muni service, which means that riders may need to wait longer than usual for their bus or train. Our hope is that this will be the extent of our impacts. However, the situation is fluid, and we are monitoring staffing levels on a daily basis.
As part of our contingency planning, we are preparing for what might happen if our overall staffing levels drop significantly or if a small, but vital group—such as our Transit Management Center or Power Control Center— is significantly impacted. Either of these situations could leave us with no choice but to make additional Muni service reductions such as cancelling routes or introducing bus substitutions for rail service.
We are doing our best to avoid this situation by communicating proactively with staff about masking and staying home if they have any symptoms and keeping some staff working vital functions at remote locations to limit exposure. We are grateful that nearly 100% of the SFMTA workforce is vaccinated, and we are encouraging boosters as an effective precaution. We are also doing hard work behind the scenes to prepare signage, operator instructions, and all the other materials we would need to implement changes as smoothly as possible — in the case these become necessary.