Traffic out of San Francisco has been heavy ever since the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened and another BART strike, like the one in June and July, could make it a whole lot worse.
Until now, BART said the idea of having their managers operate trains with passengers in them was "unthinkable," but the very real possibility of another strike, and a long one, has them rethinking that position.
It's the first time it's been mentioned during the prolonged talks between BART and its unions, the possibility that managers might operate the trains with passengers in the event of a lengthy strike.
"That's a planning exercise right now. We're not sure that we're going to be able to do that, but I will say that's something that we're looking at," said BART's Asst. general manager Paul Oversier.
Oversier mentioned the possibility while speaking to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission about the district's plans, if there is another strike in October.
The last time BART managers operated the trains with passengers on them was during a strike was in 1979, when the unions went out for three months, creating huge backups on Bay Area freeways. As it is now, contractually BART couldn't even begin to train any of its 200 managers until after a strike began.
"I would be extremely concerned if they're thinking about having managers run trains," said Antonette Bryant. She is the local president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents BART's 400 train operators. "Our train operators go through a 16 week period of training in order for them to be certified and they still have to have a 90 day probation on top of that 16 weeks to operate a train."
Whether or not managers operate the trains during a strike, BART does plan to increase bus service by 20 percent, up to 100 busses. That's still only about 1/8 of the busses needed to replace BART.
BART and its unions are expected back at the bargaining table Monday.
BART tells unions not to expect more money
BART's Board of Directors is telling its unions not to expect more money on the table when contract negotiations between the two sides resume Monday.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that at Thursday's BART Board meeting, Director James Fang tried but failed to get members to steer at least $5 million more to its union workers.
The money was left over from the budget after BART balanced its books in June.