LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Bus drivers say they are on the front lines dealing with passengers without the proper safety precautions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and now some are considering taking action.
“People are talking about a strike,” one bus driver said.
That bus driver, hiding behind the one mask he was given by the department, said at least 100 drivers were considering a strike over what they said were unsafe conditions.
“They’re not giving us the necessary tools to perform out jobs safely,” the driver said. “Yesterday, they had no hand sanitizer, no gloves, no masks. And, also, it’s just impossible to enforce the social distancing rules.
So far, at least seven MTA drivers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Those still working said the department is unprepared for what they have to deal with. Most have only been given one glove, one mask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and they think the system should be shut down for at least a few weeks.
“If it’s as bad as what they’re making it out to be, then yeah, they definitely have to shut it down because there’s no protection,” the driver said. “There’s just no way to keep these buses sanitized 100%.”
But L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who sits on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board said that was not going to happen.
“I don’t think we’re in a position right now to stop bus service because it still remains very, very critical for many people,” she said.
But drivers said a majority of their passengers are homeless people taking advantage of free bus service during the crisis.
The drivers said the potential strike is not backed by the union, but growing number of drivers who said they have had enough support the action.
Metro Los Angeles, on Tuesday, announced further cuts to service. Starting April 16, buses will operate on Sunday/holiday schedules and trains will run on modified schedules.