Bay Area Traffic

Commuters' frustration grows on Day 3 of BART strike

Thursday, July 04, 2013
BART strike, man with a sign BART management and its two largest unions returned to the bargaining table Wednesday afternoon. Commuters once again faced gridlock and long lines as they made their way around the bay. BART trains stopped at yard

After BART management and its two largest unions ended overnight with no deal, both sides returned to the bargaining table Wednesday afternoon. Commuters once again faced gridlock and long lines as they made their way around the bay.

Except for a couple of smiles, there was zero communication from BART negotiators going into the Caltrans building on Grand Avenue. Bargaining teams for the two main unions, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, representing 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers and Service Employees International Union Local 1221, representing 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, also went in just before 1 p.m.

Both sides say the two new state mediators brought in have asked them to keep their public comments to a minimum and their talks inside the negotiating room.

I'm just a guy who would be grateful to have a well-paying job again."

BART workers say they are happy to have their jobs; they just want a fair deal from the transit system, which at last word, was still offering a 2 percent per year raise over four years. The unions want 4.5 percent per year over three years.

"We're out here for as long as we need to be; we want to let the management know that we're out here for the long haul," striking BART worker Greg Gray said.

BART spokesperson Rick Rice says once a settlement has been reached it will take at least a half day to get the system back up and running.

"To make sure our trains are safe for our workers and our riders, it's going to take about 12 hours," he said. "It could be a little longer, a little less."

Long backup begins early Wednesday at Bay Bridge toll plaza

The single worst bottleneck since the BART strike began has been the approach to the toll plaza of the Bay Bridge. Some commuters have reported waiting in backups of more than two hours throughout the week.

According to the MTC, there were 132,295 motorists that crossed the tolls at the Bay Bridge Tuesday, a bump up from Monday's 128,065 motorists. Before the strike, an earlier Monday in June saw 125,892 motorists, according to MTC officials.

Caltrans has expanded the HOV 3 or more lane on I-80 to be non-stop from 5 a.m.-7 p.m. for the duration of the strike. Carpools are required to have FasTrak to receive discounted tolls when crossing bridges.

Regular casual carpoolers say they have noticed many more people at pick up points in San Francisco and in the East Bay.

Carless commuters pack buses between East Bay and SF

Commuters choosing to travel by bus are continuing to face long lines and packed buses. Some people say they are waking up as 4 a.m. to get to work and using up vacation every time they leave the office early to make their way home.

BART is shifting buses for its free shuttle service to accommodate high demand. Wednesday morning, there were 20 buses to pick up passengers at the Walnut Creek BART station, seven more than Tuesday and Monday. Yesterday, BART ran out of seats for Walnut Creek passengers.

AC Transit is providing extra service between the East Bay and San Francisco with three buses running each hour instead of the normal two to San Francisco. Long lines formed all morning for the buses. BART even brought in school buses to AC Transit stops to help transport passengers Wednesday morning.

Also, there are no onsite change machines at the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. Bring small bills/coins or load cash onto a Clipper card.

Ferries packed this week

Once again, commuters are lining up by the hundreds to board ferries bound for the East Bay.

The line for boats to Oakland, Alameda and Bay Farm Island stretched down the Embarcadero Wednesday afternoon.

At last check, the hour-plus wait to board ferries hasn't gotten any better.

San Francisco Bay Ferry officials asked riders to show up early to try and beat the crowds. They estimate ridership has tripled since the strike began on Monday.

Ferry service will be on a holiday schedule Thursday and then on a special schedule on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Both sides resumed negotiations after a dinner break Wednesday evening. The fact that they are still inside negotiating is considered a positive sign. Whatever happens tonight though, it's unlikely BART could be running again in time for at least the first half of the Fourth of July holiday.

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.

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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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