San Francisco and D.C. Transit Agencies Consider Big Layoffs, Service Cuts

Muni buses are shown at a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency yard during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2020. (

Muni buses are shown at a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency yard during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco on Nov. 16, 2020. ( AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

 

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Grocery stores with pharmacies buying medical-grade freezers for vaccines … Virginia looking for citizen members of its new redistricting commission … California governor denies parole for Manson follower.

The San Francisco and Washington, D.C., transit agencies are facing dramatic employee layoffs and service cutbacks, according to official presentations released on Monday. In San Francisco, the staff layoffs of around 20% of nearly 6,000 employees would come significant reductions in the services provided to people in the city, which the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has already cut by 30%. "I spent half the day last Wednesday sobbing on Zoom calls, realizing the magnitude of what we're facing," said SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin. In the fiscal year that ends in June, the agency projects the budget shortfall due to the coronavirus-fueled recession will total $68 million. That is expected to grow to $168 million the following fiscal year. Across the country in Washington, D.C., WMATA projected the agency's budget deficit in the fiscal year starting July 2021 could be almost $500 million. In a presentation, the agency suggested dramatic cuts to service, including entirely eliminating weekend Metro trains and closing 19 stations, as well as staff layoffs as high as a third of the workforce. “We thought we put together a budget that is pragmatic and that’s [based on] the reality we have now,” said Metro board chair Paul Smedberg. [KQED; DCist]

SMALL BUSINESS CLOSURES | Almost a third of small businesses in New York and New Jersey have closed since January, according to a database tracking recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s devastating how many restaurants have shuttered and jobs have been lost,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of NYC Hospitality Alliances. [New York Post]

GROCERY VACCINES | Grocery stores with pharmacies are buying medical-grade freezers to store vaccines and other medical equipment so they can be ready to distribute Covid vaccinations. Initially, the vaccine will be very limited, with frontline health care workers receiving the two-dose vaccinations first, followed by people in long-term care facilities and essential workers. But eventually pharmacies are expected to be involved as the vaccine is distributed to the wider population. [Wall Street Journal]

OPEN APPLICATIONS | Virginia is now accepting applications from state residents who want to be citizen members of the state’s new redistricting commission. The body will include eight residents, along with eight members of the state legislature. The commission will need to draw maps for state elected positions, like the House of Delegates, by April. [Washington Post; DCist]

PAROLE DENIAL | California Gov. Gavin Newsom denied parole for Leslie Van Houten, 71, a Charles Manson follower who has spent five decades in prison for murder. Van Houten was recommended for parole by a panel in July, but Newsom rejected her release. "Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings,” he wrote in the decision. This was the fourth time a governor has rejected parole for Van Houten. [CNN; The Guardian]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty.

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