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Port Authority Routes Continue To Be Impacted Over Vaccine Mandate Battle

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Port Authority bus and T routes continue to be impacted by workers suspended over the vaccine mandate.

The vaccine mandate began Wednesday, but for days hundreds have been suspended from work for Port Authority. As it opened a new transportation center in Mckeesport on Thursday, routes continued to be disrupted.

According to Port Authority numbers, 204 employees still don't have the vaccine -- of that 198 are part of the union. Another 136 have at least one shot and 132 are in the union.

Forty employees out of 300 had their exemptions accepted. CEO Katharine Kelleman said she understands why riders are upset with the delays and disruptions.

No word yet on how long these disruptions will last, and there is no exact number on how many routes have been disrupted.

There is hope as Port Authority goes through hearings that more people get vaccinated. Kelleman said this is all about safety.

"Folks are entitled to know that they have a safe trip," Kelleman said. "We had seven people die from COVID, seven people whose families are now mourning them. Three of them died after the vaccine was available. If this is a way to make sure our folks are safe, if it's a way to make sure we don't have the attendance we did in January when Omicron wiped us out, we almost had to shut down, I am comfortable having that argument that this is to make sure we're there for the long term."

Hearings will start this week. If someone refuses to get the vaccine, they could be fired. If someone has their first shot, they will have a 30-day probationary window to get their second.

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