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Metro warns of possible bus delays due to staff shortages

Metro warned of possible delays on several bus lines Friday due to staff shortages stemming from a possible planned sickout by operators.

Metro said riders may see delays on bus lines 2, 4, 18, 20, 40, 45, 53, 66, 70, 108, 110, 111, 206 and 720.

Bus drivers have been targeted in several recent attacks on the job, but details about the planned sickout were not immediately available.

The transit agency issued a statement Friday morning, urging drivers not to participate in the work sickout.

“Transit riders throughout Los Angeles County depend on the Metro Bus and Rail network every day to reach critical destinations including work, school, and medical facilities, and to care for their friends and family members,” Metro said in its statement. “We appeal to our operators to reconsider the impact their plan to call in sick will have on some of the most vulnerable people in the county. Transit operators who intentionally plan to call in sick put our customers at risk. Further, it is a violation of Metro’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, so we hope they will reconsider.”

A Hawthorne man who allegedly stabbed a Metro bus operator in the chest in the unincorporated Willowbrook area pleaded not guilty on April 29 to an attempted murder charge. The case includes allegations that he used a knife during the crime and personally inflicted great bodily injury during the April 13 attack, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Following the stabbing death of a woman on the Metro B (Red) Line and a series of violent attacks on public transit operators, Metro officials expedited efforts to acquire and install protective barriers for drivers on thousands of buses.

Metro’s Board of Directors on April 29 approved an emergency procurement declaration to speed up acquisition and installation of barriers for about 2,000 buses due to the “sudden, unexpected increased severity of assaults on operators.” Officials said that given delays in receiving the tempered glass over the past few months, staff recommended the emergency declaration to bypass normal procurement procedures and expedite the installation of the barriers.

The man arrested in the fatal stabbing a woman on a Metro train was previously convicted of assaulting passengers on Los Angeles’ public transit system, according to court records and law enforcement sources.

Metro’s statement also acknowledged the safety concerns.

“Bus operators are the face of Metro to more than 80% of Metro riders,” Metro said. “They are the lifeblood of the Metro organization. We understand their and their families’ fear in the face of the senseless assaults some have experienced primarily resulting from the twin crises of untreated mental illness and drug addiction. We share their frustration and have expedited the installation of barriers to keep them safe, as well as the re-deployment of safety and security personnel on board buses to deter assaults. At the same time, we are working on longer term plans, which include the addition of even more dedicated transit security bus riding teams.”

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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