Detroit bus drivers won’t work; rides stop for thousands

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DETROIT — Bus riders were stranded Friday in Detroit as drivers concerned about the coronavirus refused to report to work.

A union official said drivers have been having conflicts with riders about wearing masks and facing other challenges.

“Just because you ask someone about a mask, you’ve got to fend for your life,” Glenn Tolbert, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, told The Detroit News. “It’s getting to the point with COVID and all the other pressures … all of these things are just piling up. I’ve got people quitting on a daily basis.”

Detroit buses serve an average of 85,000 people a day.

In March, early in the pandemic, drivers staged a strike over safety and the condition of their buses. In response, Detroit eliminated fares, promised more cleaning and told riders to enter and exit from the rear door only. Masks are mandatory.

Detroit’s chief operating officer, Hakim Berry, said the city is listening to new concerns and working to get drivers back on the road as soon as possible.

A driver died of COVID-19 in March, days after posting an angry video on Facebook about a coughing passenger.

“At some point in time, we’ve got to draw the line and say enough is enough. I feel violated,” Jason Hargrove said.

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