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San Francisco commuters stuck as transit workers call in sick

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco Bay Area train and bus commuters were stranded or facing long delays on Monday when many transit workers called in sick, days after a vote on a new contract, bringing the city's famed cable cars to a halt.

The apparent job action also left only about a third of the city's buses and trains, which make an estimated 700,000 trips per day, running during the morning commute.

"ATTN: ALL routes and lines are experiencing major delays. Please consider alternative forms of transportation," the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency urged riders in a tweet.

Commuters stood in long lines at bus stops, in some cases pushing and shoving to get onto overcrowded buses.

"I had to wait 45 minutes to catch the 28 bus," commuter Reese Souza said. "Two buses passed by, totally full, so I had to walk to work. It took me an hour and a half to get to work, which normally takes 30 minutes."

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the transportation agency, said officials were still trying to determine how many of its 2,000 employees had called in sick.

"We hope this is the only day that our customers will be impacted,” Rose said. "We’re hoping service is fully restored tomorrow but if it’s not we’ll be ready for it."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that apparent sick-out comes after a vote on Friday by transit workers over a new contract proposal that would give workers an 11.25 percent raise over the next two years but require them to make a greater contribution to a pension program.

The contract would make San Francisco's bus and train operators the second-highest-paid transit workers in the nation, at about $32 an hour according to the paper.

Rose declined to comment on the contract negotiations and a spokesman for the local Transport Workers Union Local 250 could not be reached for comment on Monday.

(Reporting by Laura Rena Murray, Christina Farr and Malathi Nayak; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Walsh and David Gregorio)

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