Union leader says more Metro Transit bus, light rail service changes likely

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The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there will "likely be more changes in bus and light rail schedules" as Metro Transit, and its passengers, navigate restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryan Timlin, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 President, told KSTP the union is negotiating and discussing different ideas with Metro Transit to make ridership safer for passengers and nearly 2,000 bus drivers and LRT operators.

"This is something we’ve never experienced with overnight service, for the most part, shut down," said Timlin. "That’s to make sure the buses and LRT cars are thoroughly cleaned between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., but there will likely be some bus routes temporarily shut down by next week."

Timlin said one of the issues the union and management faces is how many— is too many— passengers on a bus or a light rail car and which bus routes might be temporarily canceled to help mitigate the potential for COVID-19 exposure.

"In Madison, Wisconsin, they are limiting the number of passengers to 15," said Timlin. "That is something we have suggested to Metro Transit management and if that happens any bus that gets too full could then be assisted by one of the buses from a route that is canceled."

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Metro Transit spokesperson, Howie Padilla, told KSTP management that Metro Transit is in ongoing discussions with union leadership on how to best address different situations.

"We are not ready to announce something that has not yet been finalized," said Padilla. "We are talking about a bunch of different scenarios and we have dedicated employees working hard to keep this region safe."

Timlin said the best thing Metro Transit customers can do is regularly check bus and LRT schedules to keep up with any changes that might be happening in the coming days.

"This is something like out of Hollywood and is a little surreal," said Timlin. "It will be changing as the shifts could be coming every few days or weeks because the situation is changing that fast."