The BART strike is on.
Commuters around the Bay Area on Monday were left stuck in freeway gridlock, cramming onto standing room-only buses and cursing the first BART labor shutdown since 1997.
About 200,000 people who ride BART daily -- about 5 percent of the Bay Area commute pool -- were left scrambling to find other ways to get around as all BART trains remained shut down following the end of service early Monday morning.
"It was a rough day out there, just as we had expected," said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional agency that operates the 511 commute-information service. And "we're obliged to operate under the assumption that BART will
be down again tomorrow."
BART and its unions saw their four-year contract expire overnight after three months of failed negotiations, and workers immediately hit the picket lines. A strike will continue indefinitely until BART management and the two unions representing 2,300 blue-collar workers reach a deal.
On Monday morning, neither side had plans to return to the bargaining table as they remained at odds over wage increases and medical and pension benefits.
"We have not heard from the mediator yet, so unfortunately no talks are scheduled. We're hoping that changes soon," BART spokesman Rick Rice said. "We do feel this is unfair to our riders and hope to get it resolved quickly."
Both sides remained waiting for the
other to offer a new proposal.
"If they don't contact us, we can't sit down and negotiate, and that would mean we would continue to be on strike," said Antonette Bryant, president of the union that represents train operators, station agents and other workers. Asked how long the strike could go on, she said: "I have no idea; that's up to BART."
Carpool lanes will remain open throughout the day and motorists should be prepared for heavy traffic and hot weather. The California Highway Patrol advised filling up gas tanks and bringing along plenty of water in case of long waits in traffic.
Traffic officials reported Monday that commutes from the East Bay into San Francisco were about an hour worse than usual for solo drivers, with the commute worsened by a major accident on Interstate 80 in the East Bay. Vehicle counts on the Bay and Golden Gate bridges actually went down slightly during rush hour compared to the typical weekday, but that always happens when traffic is especially bad. Traffic officials liken it to pouring water through a funnel: When more cars clog the road, fewer overall vehicles can get through in a short time span than if the freeways are free-flowing.
Carpool lanes were moving much faster,
however. Goodwin urged commuters to show up to casual carpool lots, including at BART parking lots, after tons of drivers waited in lines up to 10 vehicles deep waiting for commuters that did not show up hop in their carpools.
Two reporters from this newspaper -- one driving solo and one taking transit -- raced between the Fremont BART station and downtown San Francisco. Even with a 20-minute stop in Oakland, the reporter driving made it there in 2 hours and 14 minutes, beating the transit-taking reporter by 34 minutes.
Bay Area transit agencies were offering extra services that would provide about
Most Popular Stories
- Apple Wants Samsung to Pay $22M for Patent Dispute Legal Bills
- Twitter Coming to Phones Without Internet
- NASA Fellowships, Scholarships Bring Diversity to Workforce
- Dish Network Leads 2013 Top 50 Advertisers List
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines
- Entravision Initiates Quarterly Cash Dividend
- Jobs Report Brings Cheer As Unemployment Drops to Five-year Low
- Warner Bros. Unleashes 'Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug' Merchandise
- Shanghai Smog Forces Factory Shutdowns