BART confident over staffing during Bay Bridge closure

August 23, 2013 5:37:49 PM PDT
The Bay Bridge closure is just days away and BART is gearing up to run trains around the clock, until the new Bay Bridge is opened right after Labor Day.

The Bay Bridge will not be an option for drivers next week, so BART will be vital and the plan will be to run the trains the entire time the bridge is closed. But there's a wrinkle in the plan. As of now, not enough employees have volunteered to work overnight weekend hours.

Commuters in the Bay Area are already bracing for crowded BART trains at the end of next week when the Bay Bridge will be closed.

"It's going to be crazy, it's going to be like Christmas in the malls. It's going to be crazy. I don't know it's going to be weird," San Jose resident Tommy Sullivan said.

Now there's word BART may not be able to run trains around the clock as planned, while the bridge is closed.

"We haven't seen a lot of people sign up yet, but we're not too worried. We have a feeling that when crunch time comes next week they're going to step up to the plate. They always do. This is really when BART shines," BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said.

BART officials say they aren't worried yet because this has happened before.

"Pride Parade was a perfect example. It was the night before they went on strike and no one signed up for overtime. No one knew if we were going to be able to provide the extra Sunday service and really at the end of the day everyone stepped up and we were able to do it and actually broke a huge record that night," Trost said.

Dealing with whether BART will be running overnight is still a week away. Right now, drivers have another obstacle in their way. Three lanes just to the right of the toll plaza will be shut down this weekend, so crews can create another Fas Trak lane for the new bridge.

With all of this turbulence on the horizon, many say they're planning to avoid the area altogether.

"I'll try to stay close to home, avoid going over the bay to San Francisco, so that would be my advice and that's the advice I'm going to be taking" Oakland resident Bruce Aparton said.

"I just feel everyone has gotten enough warning, you know hopefully everybody has made good plans to stay where they are, stay on this side or that side or wherever they need to be," San Pablo resident Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer said.

Toll lanes 16 through 18 on the right side of the toll plaza will be closed at 9 p.m. on Friday and will reopen at 5 a.m. Monday.

BART is hoping that employees will sign up for those overnight shifts. They're offering time-and-a-half pay and in some cases double time for those who work those overnight hours.

The new bridge is close to opening and includes a treat for bicyclist: a bicycle and pedestrian path.

The path will be open to the public at 10 a.m. Sept. 3. Caltrans has not decided how far people will be allowed to go. California Highway Patrol bicycle patrols will be monitoring the crowds.

"If the capacity reaches a certain number, we'll just go ahead and restrict access for a bit until, and start an in-and-out procedure," CHP Ofc. Daniel Hill said. "So pedestrians and bicyclists might expect a bit of a delay on the opening day; it may be the opening week."

The paths are a continuation of the Bay Trail that will begin on land in Emeryville and eventually connect all the way to Treasure Island.


Load Comments