Zurich tramline to be completely suspended due to large increase in sick leave
Verkehrsbetrieben Zürich (VBZ) has announced that the number 15 tramline in Zurich will be suspended from October 8 due to a rise in the number of employees taking sick leave. It follows new data from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), which found that the number of COVID cases has increased by 49,4 percent in a week.
Number 15 tramline in Zurich suspended due to illness
In a statement given to 20 minuten, VBZ announced that the number 15 tramline - the route that goes from Bucheggplatz to Stadelhofen station - would be suspended from October 8 until further notice. They explained that the number of available drivers has been falling significantly due to an increase in sick leave and a general shortage of workers.
Bus line 83, from Milchbuck to Altstetten station, will also see cutbacks, with buses arriving every 15 minutes as opposed to 7,5 minutes from October 10. VBZ acknowledged that the changes mean a "temporary restriction of comfort" for passengers and emphasised they would only keep the change for as long as necessary.
VBZ will close more routes if the situation worsens
"VBZ regrets these measures and hopes that the current situation will ease," the statement read. They said their main aim was to reduce cancellations so that passengers can “rely on the timetable,” but reserved the right to reduce other services should the situation worsen.
This isn’t the first time public transport has been impacted by illness in Zurich. In January, route 15 was cancelled due to staff shortages related to COVID. VBZ explained that this route is usually the first to go as all the stops on its route are covered by other services, although they admitted that “passengers must expect slightly longer travel times.”
COVID, flu and other diseases blamed for Zurich staff shortage
While VBZ could not say why so many workers are going on sick leave, as COVID tests are no longer mandatory and “employees do not have to state the reason for their illness," new data from the FOPH revealed that there were 25.134 new cases of COVID in Switzerland between September 27 and October 4, an increase of 49,4 percent compared to the week before. The significant rise in cases led 20 minuten to suggest that the high number of COVID cases was, once again, having an impact on staff shortages.
For VBZ, the reason for the shortage is a combination of different factors. Concluding their statement, the company told the newspaper that "on the one hand, COVID numbers are rising sharply across Switzerland. On the other hand, flu and other diseases may strike more strongly since the immune system has not been particularly trained in the last two years due to the mask requirement."
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