At a 7-Eleven gas station by Interstate 580 in Livermore, Michael Chavez said a
lot of his friends are in their mid 20s and "are not fortunate enough to have a
Outside the Montgomery BART station, about 25 train operators and station agents chanted "Riding public should be aware, the BART board is unfair!" while waving placards with slogans like "stop the violence." They also planned rallies in Oakland and San Francisco for Monday.
"We are the working class, we support the working class. We bring them to work everyday," said train operator Tina Santillan, 35, of Daly City. "But the BART board doesn't care about the working-class folks because they've left them out on the freeway."
As she spoke, her colleagues blew into noise makers and chanted: "What's this about? Safety!"
BART train operator Robert Malito said he's on strike because he wants worker's comp rules improved and better train maintenance. He said train cabs aren't well insulated and drivers endure much louder noise when going through tunnels than ordinary motor vehicles would.
In addition, he said some driver's chairs have been repaired with duct tape, leaving springs sticking out. Also, he said, windows are so poorly maintained that he and other drivers have sustained injuries opening and closing them after they pull into stations to watch passengers getting on and off. He spent two-and-a-half years on workers' comp, but earned no retirement pay during that time, he said.
"Basically, the big issues are worker safety and vehicle maintenance," he said. "A lot of people are getting injured and there's no protection for us. We've had station agents assaulted by passengers. We call BART police and by the time they get there, the people have made their getaway."
Apart from the rumble of the occasional Muni train, the Embarcadero BART station was silent Monday morning. The turnstiles were wrapped in yellow caution tape and orange "out of service" stickers were plastered over the ticket slots. There were just a few people wandering through the usually bustling hub.
Two BART station agents, who didn't want to give their last names, said they are on strike seeking better wages and benefits including retirement, as well as improved safety for employees and passengers. They pointed to recent shootings and stabbings at BART stations.
"A lot of us have been assaulted. I've been spit on," said one of the agents, Elizabeth L.
Sandra D. added: "And I've been choked."
Elizabeth said most members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 don't believe BART's claims that the agency is short on money.
Even though BART is subsidized by taxpayers, it still loses money when it's not operating because of other built-in costs that still need to be met even when the system is idle. BART loses $8 million in passenger fare and parking revenue each week it is shut down, and even with saving money on labor and other operating costs, it still loses a net of $3.9 million a week, or $560,000 a day, BART says.
Back-up bus service
Outside the Walnut Creek BART station in the East Bay, buses were lined up early Monday to take commuters to the West Oakland BART station, where they will transfer to another shuttle that will take them near the Transbay Terminal in
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