LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Additional Metro Los Angeles bus drivers have come forward, saying they too have been ordered to work six-day weeks to cover for hundreds out sick with COVID-19.
“I definitely feel like [safety is] being compromised,” Daniel Chavez, a Metro bus driver, said.
Chavez said he has been working six- and seven-day weeks for months, driving a two-ton bus on the road with everyone else.
“Once you get that sixth day in, you’re tired,” he said. “You’re exhausted.”
Chavez echoed the sentiments expressed by another driver who previously spoke out and said they were concerned about passenger safety.
According to Metro, about 800 bus operators — about 35% — were out due to COVID-19 and unrelated absences. But bus safety expert Robert Berkstresser said ordering others to fill the schedule could be dangerous.
“Certainly it could lead to accidents,” he said. “It could lead to serious accidents.”
Drivers have also said they feel like they are at risk because despite a policy that every passenger wear a face covering, a sign posted for drivers stated, “All operators are to board patrons not wearing a mask.”
Chavez said he believes that police could be the reason why so many drivers are out sick.
“To me, as an employee, that’s a slap in the face,” he said. “And it puts me at risk. It puts my family at risk.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Thursday in a statement that she was “very concerned” by the reporting.
“This is a matter of protecting the health of Metro bus drivers and passengers alike,” the statement continued. “At the upcoming Metro meeting I’ll introduce a motion to require face coverings on Metro buses and trains.”
Metro said most people who use the buses and trains have been complying with the local face covering order and said it did not want to put drivers in the position of enforcing the rules. As for those who are working additional hours, the agency said it was complying with all California Department of Motor Vehicles regulations.