AMA union: Reopening of bus services does not comply with disinfection protocols

By The Star Staff

The United Workers of the Metropolitan Bus Authority (TUAMA by its Spanish acronym) charged on Monday that the public corporation did not follow health protocols to avoid the spread of the coronavirus on the bus system’s first day of resumed operations.

TUAMA President Alexis Merced Gutiérrez and Ángel Torres Escribano, secretary treasurer, said they observed the resumption of operations of the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA) starting at 4 a.m. and did not see officials disinfecting terminals or buses.

“We have already been able to witness what the Authority’s supposed preparation has been for the gradual opening,” Merced Gutiérrez said in a written communication. “As the workers’ representative, I must point out that if the Authority does not have all the units available with the necessary safety accessories, even if they want to provide the service, they should not because if they do so, they would be putting the health of the workers and riders at risk.”

There were buses that did not have the necessary safety signage and protocols, such as those for the mandatory use of a mask, the union officials said. Buses also were not equipped with hand sanitizer, as required. Only about 26 units that were in service had the protective device or acrylic barrier for drivers installed, Merced Gutiérrez said.

“Thus, in the middle of the day [during the driver’s relay hours] the absence of protocols became evident, both in the Terminal de Sagrado Corazón and the Terminal de San Juan,” he said. “There were no personnel or equipment to carry out the disinfection, nor were there any personnel to supervise that this task be carried out.”

In May, Budget Director Omar Hernández said the public corporation was preparing a protocol for resuming operations and deterring the spread of COVID-19. The plan entailed reducing the number of passengers in buses to maintain social distancing and requiring riders to use masks. He also said drivers were going to be protected by an acrylic shield separating them from riders.

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