SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's famed cable cars stopped running Monday and the rest of the city transit system experienced delays when drivers called in sick a few days after overwhelmingly rejecting a new labor contract, officials said.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency operated without two-thirds of the vehicles that would normally be used to provide service, spokesman Paul Rose said.
The agency known as MUNI runs buses, light rail and street cars in addition to the cable cars, and serves about 700,000 passengers each day. Its 2,200 operators represented by Transport Workers Union Local 250-A rejected the contract by a 1,198 to 42 vote Friday, according to totals on the union's website.
The workers are not allowed to go on strike, but they can call in sick. Rose said he did not know how many employees had done so.
Transit officials said those who reported sick must provide "adequate verification from their health care provider" to get sick pay and could be subject to discipline.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Alicia John-Baptiste, the transit agency's chief of staff, wrote Monday in a memo to staff: "Operators claiming to be sick today, or in connection with any future 'sickout,' will be required to submit adequate verification from their health care provider in order to be eligible to receive paid sick leave."
Monday's surprise slowdown led to long lines as most trains and buses running were at capacity.
"We're doing our best to balance service throughout the city and provide service on every route and line, but at this point there will be delays," Rose said.
On Monday, a fare inspector at the start of cable car lines at Powell and Market streets broke the bad news to dozens of tourists who had planned to ride the historic conveyances.
"We're very disappointed," said Willfrid Strauss, 56, who was visiting San Francisco with his new wife, Corinne, from France. The two were married in Las Vegas on Friday.