BART appears to be training managers to run trains

September 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Just weeks from a possible strike, ABC 7 News has learned exactly where and how BART is getting its managers ready to drive trains if workers walk off the job. We're now just 21 days away from a possible strike and the training underway now could allow for limited service if there is a strike.

Union members are outraged that BART is actively training potential train operators at a site on Mare Island. BART managers insist they're doing nothing wrong and it's for the good of the riding public.

BART trains could come to a screeching halt come October 11th. That's why management is coming up with a plan B.

Last week, BART brought two cars to a warehouse at Alstom Transportation on Mare Island in Vallejo. Since then, 12 managers who are non-union, but certified operators, have been going through a refresher training course on what BART calls "non-working" equipment.

"We're also looking at the possibility if it's safe and if the board approves it, of having limited train service for passengers," said BART spokesperson Jim Allison.

BART may run some trains during peak hours with these non-union operators. That is something it says is allowed, if the union strikes.

"We have to be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged strike and it's our responsibility to have some options for the Bay Area if that were to occur," said Allison.

"We would like them to come to the table with the same level of intensity to get a contract as opposed to training people that aren't ready to do the job," said Antonette Bryant, ATU Local 1555.

The union representing train operators calls BART's move disingenuous and against the rules because training of non-union personnel can only happen on equipment that's not powered up. A BART operator showed me a photo tonight.

"We have interior lighting inside the train which shows it is actually powered up," said train operator Dave Pursley who pointed out that is not allowed.

However, for BART passengers none of this matters. They just want to trains to run, regardless of who is behind the wheel.

"I think it's fair because the people got to get to work somewhere," said Darlisa Zuzchi.

"I think it's OK, just in case, only for the fact that it would be tough for me to get to the city," said BART rider Cathy Powers.

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Monday.


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