BART, unions back to bargaining table late on Day 2

July 3, 2013 12:24:18 AM PDT
On Day 2 of the transit strike that has left commuters struggling to make their way around the Bay Area, BART officials have resumed negotiations with the striking unions. This comes as Bay Area commuters once again struggled to make their way between San Francisco and the East Bay without BART service. Both sides say they are eager to get trains running again.

Tuesday evening, AFSCME Local 3993 announced it had reached a tentative agreement with district officials and was advising its 200 members, who work mainly as supervisory and professional staff, to return to work. AFSCME Local 3993 is one of the smaller of the five BART employee unions, but it could be a sign that negotiations with the two largest unions are making headway.

The larger unions involved in the strike include 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.

BART announced late Tuesday evening that they had received no indication that ATU and SEIU union members would be returning to work on Wednesday and advised commuters to once again make alternate transportation plans.

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.

Commuters hit the roads earlier

Thousands of commuters hit the roads a little earlier Tuesday hoping to beat the traffic, but that just caused the backup at the Bay Bridge toll plaza to start sooner. The cash lanes started to back-up into the MacArthur Maze at 4:30 a.m. By 11 a.m., there was still major congestion in the Maze. Extra toll takers were on duty to help with congestion. Caltrans crews worked non-stop through the morning commute, towing cars which had overheated or run out of gas during the epic backups.

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

Buses struggle to meet demand

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. But the extra buses were not enough to meet the demand of the huge crowds gathered in Oakland trying to get into the city. Tuesday afternoon, drivers had to force riders off buses due to overcrowding. It got so hectic at one point, an ABC7 News crew witnessed a man trip and fall to the curb while people continued scrambling on the bus.

Willie Brown offers to mediate strike negotiations

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown says, if asked, he is willing to help mediate BART negotiations. Brown was instrumental in helping bring an end to the last BART strike in 1997. He says this time he is willing to act as a mediator between the two sides free of charge. He also suggested San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan get involved in an effort to resolve the strike quickly.

Ferries take on extra passengers

The ferry system really came through for commuters stranded by the strike. Monday, San Francisco Bay Ferry says its 11 ferries handled 7,835 commuters during the morning rush, up from its normal number of 2,500. Tuesday, the lines were once again long, but passengers seemed prepared for the waits. There were 7,400 riders for the morning commute.

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.

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 contributed to this report.


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