Bay Area Traffic
BART strike continues into Day 2
Commuters in the Bay Area faced the challenge of getting to and from work Monday on Day 1 of the first BART strike in 16 years. Workers walked off the job just after midnight after failing to come to terms on a new contract.
BART unions, management at odds over contract
By Monday evening, it appeared that the strike would continue into Tuesday. No further bargaining sessions have occurred since representatives from Service Employees International Union Local 1221 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 left the table on Sunday, and none are currently scheduled.
BART's unions are asking for a 4.5 percent raise every year for three years, along with stricter safety standards for workers and passengers. BART says it's offering workers a 2 percent pay raise every year over the next four years, along with a reduction in the expected increase in health care costs. The unions say BART's latest proposed increase is based on unrealistic projections and actually amounts to $1 a year.
While the unions rallied Monday in support of the striking workers, at least one stranded BART passenger took the time to express her displeasure with the workers' refusal to settle with management.
"I feel like these people are spoiled and they need to get back to work," Bernitta Tucker said.
What bothers Tucker are reports that the average BART worker makes $134,000 a year in salary, plus benefits, and they pay nothing into their pension plans. BART union workers also get health care coverage at a discount.
Union negotiator Josie Mooney says workers negotiated those benefits and they haven't had a raise in four years.
"What I would say to the riding public is we want to bring everybody's wages up, we don't want to bring anybody's wages down and this union supports every worker being treated with dignity and respect," Mooney said.
Mooney says the average union BART worker is making $62,000 a year in salary; health and pension benefits are over and above that.
Strike forces commuters into cars
Some commuters turned to casual carpooling and the help of strangers to get them to work. On a typical work day casual carpoolers can meet at roughly two dozen established pickup locations in the East Bay and San Francisco. But during the strike, BART is offering its 35 stations as additional carpool pick-up spots.
To encourage people to rideshare, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is extending carpool hours across the Bay Bridge from 5 a.m.-7 p.m.
Monday afternoon, hundreds of people were lining up at the temporary Transbay Terminal in San Francisco looking to catch a ride back to the East Bay.
Despite how long it took to get across the bay Monday, there were actually fewer cars than usual on the Bay Bridge. Many clearly didn't have FasTrak, which may explain the back-up.
According to the MTC, there were 1,000 fewer vehicles on the bridge than there were last Monday, possibly because it's Fourth of July week.
Traffic on the San Mateo, Dumbarton, and Richmond bridges were up, however, 4-5 percent.
Parking was also an issue in downtown San Francisco, especially for those who showed up near the end of the commute. Several lots had their "full" signs up by 8 a.m., almost three hours earlier than a regular day.
Ferries take on extra passengers
The ferry system really came through for commuters stranded by the strike. San Francisco Bay Ferry says its 11 ferries handled 7,835 commuters during the morning rush, up from its normal number of 2,500.
Even places not served by BART felt the effects of the strike; 178 more people than usual showed up Monday to ride the ferries out of Larkspur in Marin County. Golden Gate Transit officials did not add more ferries, though, because the parking lots at the ferry terminal cannot accommodate any more cars.
BART offers bus service to San Francisco
BART is providing free weekday roundtrip bus service to San Francisco from five BART stations -- West Oakland, El Cerrito Del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis in the morning at these stations only. The buses will drop off passengers near San Francisco's temporary Transbay Terminal. Commuters can also catch a free bus back across the bay.
Monday night BART announced they will have 36 charter buses to help serve the West Oakland-Downtown San Francisco bus bridge, as opposed to the 18 buses they had on Monday. The West Oakland bus bridge will be set up from 5 a.m. - 9 a.m. and the return home from a stop near the Transbay Terminal will be from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
From El Cerrito del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/ Pleasanton and Fremont stations into San Francisco the hours will be from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and back from a stop near the San Francisco Transbay Terminal from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
BART officials noted that the buses can only serve 2,000-4,000 passengers in each direction, depending on traffic. There is also free parking at any BART station or Park & Ride lot.
Many commuters who showed up for the buses from downtown Oakland to San Francisco say they woke up an hour or more earlier because of the strike, but everyone was polite despite the wait.
"You've got to," commuter Regina Rogers said. "I mean, what can you do? They went on strike and you still have to get to work. What's the use in being mad?"
AC Transit provides extra service
AC Transit -- which is embroiled in its own labor dispute -- provided extra service between the East Bay and San Francisco to help bridge the gap for commuters, a spokesperson said.
AC Transit buses carried an unusually high volume of passengers, and spokesperson Clarence Johnson said it was at least double the normal number of riders at some locations.
The business advocacy group the Bay Area Council estimates that the BART strike is costing the region $73 million a day in lost labor productivity.
Stay with ABC7NEWS.COM for updates on the BART strike and information on how to get around while the trains aren't running. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and download our news app for the latest news whenever and wherever you want.
ABC7 News reporters John Alston, Matt Keller, Lilian Kim, Kira Klapper, and Mark Matthews, as well as Bay City News, contributed to this report.
BART strike, BART, unions, strike, transportation, oakland, ac transit, lawsuit, health care, health insurance, pensions, driving, bay bridge, transbay terminal, bay area traffic
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