MTS Awards $2.8 Million in $1,000 Bonuses to Workers

An MTS trolley in Mission Valley

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, which has provided uninterrupted service since the coronavirus pandemic hit, approved $1,000 bonuses for nearly all of its 2,800 workers on Thursday.

The MTS workers are, of course, all deemed essential during the pandemic.

"At a time when they could have stayed home, the employees are out in the public dealing with their own problems at home with health care or health concerns, plus their childcare concerns," KPBS reported that the MTS's newly appointed CEO, Sharon Cooney, told board members on Thursday. "As a thank-you for all of that, and to kind of keep goodwill and morale through this period, we would like to offer up a one-time bonus."

Cooney, the MTS's first female CEO, was appointed Thursday by a unanimous vote of the board. An MTS spokesman told NBC 7 on Friday that Cooney, whose salary is still under negotiation, would not be taking the $1,000 bonus. She has worked at the MTS for 15 years in a variety of positions, including director of government affairs, director of planning and deputy CEO. She replaces Paul Jablonski, who died suddenly on Sunday at the age of 61.

The MTS was recently awarded $220 million from the federal government as part of the CARES Act federal stimulus funding. The system will use $135 million of that to balance shorfalls projected in its 2020 and 2021 budgets.

Ridership has plummeted since the stay-at-home orders were issued in April, down a whopping 70 percent at one point. Ironically, that problem is an asset right now, allowing riders to practice social distancing on their journeys. Typical one-way fares on trolleys and buses cost $2.50, while an adult day pass is $6. That same rider can purchase a monthly pass, though, for $72,

The MTS expects to return to nearly full service levels by early summer, with some exceptions, including transportation to closed facilities like Sea World and colleges campuses, which will remain suspended until they reopen.

While the details are still being sorted out, the MTS spokesman said he expected workers would be receiving their bonuses sometime in mid-July.

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