MTA pursues service cuts as Omicron fuels worker shortage

That means there is no vaccine mandate at MTA, which employs 67,000 people, many of whom work in New York City. Even before omicron struck, the agency had set up 700 testing sites for its workers across the city.

While the MTA believes 80% of its workforce has received at least one vaccine injection, a recent agency breakdown shows some have higher rates than others. The subway and bus division, which employs the most people, has an immunization rate of 73%, while workers on Long Island Rail Road have the lowest, at 68%.

Governor Kathy Hochul has so far refused to demand that all state employees be vaccinated.

In an Upper Manhattan subway yard, maintenance supervisor David Noven told Gothamist that of the hundreds of people working there, he suspected about half were absent this week.

“Very little is done,” Noven said.

Noven himself started to feel ill on Wednesday and tested positive.

He followed MTA protocols and called the agency’s COVID hotline to report his results, but said he had to wait more than two hours. After the call was over, someone at the call center, who is not a medical professional, advised him to return to work on Monday.

“I’m a little worried about going back to work on Monday,” Noven said. “I have the vaccine and the booster… but there are a lot of people who work with who haven’t received the vaccine.

Lieber said this week that calls to the COVID hotline have increased 300-400%, so the MTA has asked the third party that runs the hotline to hire more workers to reduce the wait time. And he said he was confident that the MTA’s return-to-work protocols would ensure a speedy return of service to normal.

Gothamist obtained the Byzantine guide for workers to determine if they should return to work:

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