SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — After issuing a 60-day warning in September – the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will vote on Friday about whether or not to lay off 205 bus drivers and ferry operators.
The pandemic has tanked ferry service by 90%, bus ridership by 70% and bridge traffic is just above 50% of pre-pandemic levels.”Every day we have bus drivers that we send home, pay for them for a full 8 hours, where they don’t drive.”
On Friday, the board of directors for the bridge district will vote on one of three choices for the future of the 205 bus drivers and ferry operators.
The first option is a straight layoff with four months of paid medical for employees and their families, along with four weeks of severance pay or a $600/week stipend for 10 weeks.
Option two would levy an additional $1.25 toll per driver on the Golden Gate Bridge and furlough employees one day a week.
The third option would involve an additional $2 toll on drivers going southbound on the iconic span, but would mean no layoffs.
“It only solves about half the problem. This fiscal year, if we chose any of those options, we will fully spend our operating reserves and will have a shortfall going into the next fiscal year,” said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge district. The district says it will run out of 51 million dollars in federal CARES Act money at the end of the month.
President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1575, Shane Weinstein, says all of these options are a surprise to him. “Working diligently with the district on furloughs and alternative plans to layoffs, which didn’t include a bridge hike, so again, I’m a little perplexed as to why this discussion is coming up right now,” Weinstein told KPIX 5.
Drivers in Marin City were wary of potential toll hikes, which would sunset after 180 days, but they were still worried about workers. “Those things tend to stay around a lot longer than what they tell you they will,” said driver Don Happel.
With the holidays fast approaching, Weinstein says his members are worried. “We’re all going through it. We understand that there are people out there who don’t have jobs, we understand that – but they’re scared they’re very scared.”