(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

A second SF Muni operator tests positive for COVID-19

A second Muni operator has tested positive for COVID-19, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

This operator drove buses out of Muni’s Presidio Yard.

Specific Muni routes utilize buses from specific yards in The City, and Presidio’s runs include the 1-California, 2-Sutter, 3-Jackson, 21-Hayes, 24-Divisadero, 31-Balboa, 33-Ashbury-18th St., 41-Union and 45-Union-Stockton, according to an internal Muni division list.

Julie Kirschbaum, director of transit at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, notified staffers of the Muni operator’s coronavirus test in an email Saturday.

“Today we confirmed a positive care of coronavirus (COVID-19) for an Operator out of Presidio Yard,” Kirschbaum wrote. She shared well wishes, and added, “Unfortunately, this is not the first case in the SFMTA family and will likely not be last, but we are prepared to do everything we can to minimize the risks of transmission.”

Kirschbaum said SFMTA reviewed the operator’s “recent work activity” to determine when they began showing symptoms, reviewing the history of vehicles they drove so they could be cleaned again, and reviewed surveillance video to see if any additional quarantine was needed.

The Presidio Yard is getting a “thorough daily clean,” Kirschbaum wrote, and the operator was connected with SFMTA’s human resources department for “guidance.”

The first known positive COVID-19 case among Muni operators was reported internally by the agency just last week. A Muni operator from Potrero Yard was tested positive. Potrero Yard is home to the 5-Fulton, 5R-Fulton Rapid, 6-Haight/Parnassus, 14-Mission, 22-Fillmore, and 30-Stockton bus lines

The second known positive COVID-19 case among Muni operators comes after the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents operators, demanded SFMTA enforce stricter social distancing aboard Muni buses. The ask includes suspending the acceptance of cash fares, since fareboxes are so physically close to Muni operators, and requiring backdoor boarding.

Some Muni operators aren’t waiting for permission from management, and have begun taping up their fareboxes and buses to enforce social distancing. Since operators began doing so, SFMTA sent a staffwide message to Muni operators warning “modifications to SFMTA vehicles/equipment are not authorized at this time.”

Roger Marenco, president of the TWU Local 250-A, told the Examiner previously, “My message to operators is: If you are sick, stay home. If you are afraid, stay home. If you are taking care of a family member, stay home. If you are taking care of children due to school closures, stay home.”

Besides infecting operators, the COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread fiscal impact on transit Bay Area-wide.

Muni and transit agencies across the Bay Area have seen a precipitous drop in ridership, leading agencies to seek emergency funding from government to keep transit rolling. Bay Area transit agencies are set to net $1.3 billion from the $2 trillion federal stimulus package approved by Congress last week, though exactly what slice of the pie they’ll all get is still being negotiated by regional transit officials.


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