Golden Gate Ferry service stopped for Friday

July 1, 2011 1:28:01 AM PDT
Getting across the bay just got more challenging for commuters. Golden Gate Ferry service is canceled for Friday because of a threatened one-day strike by the ticket seller's union.

For those that know about this strike, it means they'll have to stay home, drive, or take a bus. For anyone who arrives at a ferry terminal on Friday morning unaware, the bridge district says it will be doing occasional sweeps through the terminals and shuttling people to the Golden Gate Bridge bus stop and from there they'll have to make their way.

However, what this all means for commuters beyond Friday, remains to be seen.

Sixteen ticket agents at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, the Embarcadero and on the Sausalito ferry are due to be replaced with ticket machines a week from this Friday. Their union has been negotiating with the Golden Gate Bridge District about the transition since Nov. 2009, but now at the 11th hour, the union says it had no choice but to threaten a one-day strike.

"It was very disappointing today that rather than trying to resolve the problem, the district took the position to shut down service for tomorrow," said Marina Secchitano from the Inlandboatmen's Union.

"What we think is the right thing to do, which is to suspend service in light of this strike, as other unions won't want to cross the line, and just cut to the chase and let our customers know tonight," said Mary Currie from the Golden Gate Bridge District.

The Bridge District says it has to close a budget gap of $89 million over the coming five years and it is offering to re-assign the workers.

"I think our organization has an excellent track record in what we offer and what we put on the table," said Currie.

"All we're asking for is to be treated with dignity and respect as they phase our jobs out through automation," said Secchitano.

Evening ferry commuters found out about Friday's shut-down through an on-board announcement.

John from San Rafael is a computer programmer who will work from home and says "Well, it's a terrible thing, but when you have a budget gap what are you going to do?"

Some commuters will drive.

The service cancellation for Friday comes on the same day that a 5 percent fare increase is scheduled for ferry and bus service in the Golden Gate Bridge District. The union contract expires on Friday, July 1 and the union says that negotiations are not scheduled to resume until next Friday, July 8.


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