The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority will be scaling back bus service due to operator shortages. DC Metro, also known as WMATA is scheduled to reduce bus service by roughly 75% starting today.
The authority will be reducing its weekday bus service to a Saturday schedule. In addition to reducing service, the agency is implementing brand new COVID protocols that could cause some operators to lose their job.
By Jan. 31, all eligible WMATA employees will be required to enter their booster shot information into Metro’s portal as part of the fully-vaccinated requirement. Unvaccinated employees must continue to pass a COVID test every four days, up from once a week, and starting Jan. 16, employees who don’t comply with Metro’s testing and vaccination policies will be placed on unpaid leave, with 30 days to comply or be fired.
Here is the official press release via WMATA.com
“Metro’s Pandemic Taskforce is taking swift actions to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees against the recent surge in COVID-19 variants. Due to growing absenteeism rates across service areas related to COVID illness and exposures, Metro is reducing service schedules and implementing new workforce actions effective Monday, January 10.
“Scaling back service will ensure customers who rely on Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess for transportation have a more reliable schedule,” said CEO/GM Paul Wiedefeld. “Metro employees live in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic and are exposed to the surge in the region and throughout the nation. It’s important that the taskforce take steps to make Metro operationally sound to meet the needs of our customers.”
Metro service levels will operate as follows:
Metrorail will continue to operate on all lines as scheduled, with customers experiencing more frequent service at stations served by multiple lines.
Metrobus will reduce service on weekdays to a Saturday schedule with additional trips on some routes, which is roughly 75 percent of regular Metrobus service and protects key routes that serve hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential destinations.
Bus operators will be permitted to bypass customers not wearing masks for their health and safety.
Metrobus customers are advised to consider alternative sources of transportation like Metrorail to travel throughout the region.
MetroAccess will reduce shared rides and increase accessibility rides. For more information about MetroAccess, please visit wmata.com/metroaccess.
Metro’s customer service call center operators will work remotely due to the recent increase in COVID cases, but there will be no changes in hours of operation. As Metro continues to monitor COVID conditions throughout the region, employees will be held to vaccine or testing policy compliance to help combat serious illness and the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The following protocols have been communicated with all employees and will apply beginning Monday, January 10:
Weekly testing requirements will remain in place for unvaccinated employees as more frequent testing requirement are evaluated and test availability improves.
Beginning Sunday, January 16, employees who have failed to comply with Metro’s testing and vaccination policies will be placed on unpaid suspension until compliant. Employees will have 30 days to comply or be subject to termination of employment.
On Monday, January 31, employees subject to eligibility will be required to enter booster shot information into Metro’s portal as part of their fully vaccinated status. All efforts and precautions are being taken to reduce serious illness and transmission of the Omicron variant to vaccinated employees and riders.
Metro will update customers through MetroAlerts text and email messages, on the Status and Alerts page at wmata.com, and through Twitter @MetrobusInfo @MetrorailInfo. Customers are encouraged to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive the latest service information.”