LA Metro reports staff shortages amid COVID-19 surge

The number of Metro staff and contractors to test positive for COVID-19 doubled in the past month, causing worker shortages for bus and rail services, Metro announced.

About 30% of bus operators have been absent from work in the past few days due to being quarantined, caring for family members or having COVID-19, according to Metro.

Some bus and rail trips will likely be canceled each day over the next few weeks, Metro reported on Tuesday, but specifics about which lines or routes were not known. On Jan. 4, Metro canceled about 10% of its trips.

Canceled trips will not be evenly distributed, as some parts of the bus system have been affected more than others. Metro attempts to keep buses at or under 75% of seated capacity, compared to the 130% before the pandemic.

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Officials warned that one or two canceled trips would likely cause crowding on other trips.

Metro attributed the increase in infected workers to widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and not to the transit system, citing information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

"Everyone needs to keep in mind that community transmission rates are so high that you run the risk of exposure whenever you leave your house. Assume this deadly, invisible virus is everywhere, looking for a willing host," the department said in a release Monday. "Currently, more than one in five people who get tested are positive, and this helps explain why there is so much risk when you socialize with people you don't live with."

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Riders were encouraged to allow for additional trip time, use Metro's smartphone app Transit to plan their trip, and check crowding predictions. All riders are required to wear face coverings.

The impacts are expected to last until the number of COVID-19 cases decrease in the area and Metro employees are able to return to work.

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