State Republicans try to pass bill preventing BART strike

September 25, 2013 6:50:47 PM PDT
Late Wednesday, a group of Republican lawmakers urged Gov. Jerry Brown to call a special session of the Legislature to prevent a BART strike. They want to pass a bill forcing BART's unions not to strike and to continue negotiating.

In a letter Assm. Connie Conway, R-Tulare, said, "We call upon the governor to take swift action to ensure this labor dispute does not create a transportation nightmare."

The governor has said no to this idea before. ABC7 News was there at an event Wednesday afternoon when Brown discussed this issue directly. He called for both sides to get serious in their negotiations because, he said, thousands depend on BART to go back and forth across the bay every day.

On Wednesday, there were great discussions on what should be done about charter busses. Some are arguing that there should be no charter busses at all because the price tag is too great to taxpayers.

MTC board officials spent the morning discussing contingency plans in case BART workers walk off the job next month.

Using numbers generated from the last strike in July, the MTC believes the cost this time around will be greater because traffic peaks in the fall and BART counts a 30 percent surge in ridership over their summer numbers. BART users like David Tye and his wife were hit hard the last time the trains stopped running, a trip to SFO from Oakland, took this couple for a ride.

"$95 to get to San Francisco Airport," said Tye.

To prepare for a possible strike, BART is considering offering limited train service through the Transbay Tube, while the MTC will put seven ferries and charter 200 free buses on runs between the East Bay and San Francisco. However, one board member says "not so fast." It will cost the tax payers a lot of money just to get those buses rolling? money they will never get back.

"There's a strong chance they could settle late into the night, now we're stuck with all these buses and we can't cancel them. So essentially what happens is $900,000 just vaporizes," said Scott Haggerty from the MTC Board of Directors.

Haggerty believes commuters may have to suffer and it would be better to let the unions and management work through their issues, even if it takes them into the weekend with no service.

"I don't think the riders should be held hostage," said ATU Local 1555 president Antonette Bryant.

Bryant says employee unions and management are at the bargaining table now, and even though the two groups remain divided on the financials, they're closer than they've been in months.

"That hundreds of millions of dollars apart is not remotely true, so there's a deal to be made," said Bryant.

But reaching a deal may be easier said than done.

"You can't have that them and us business happening, we're all in it together and I think everyone should have a fair bite of the cherry," said Tye.

The negotiation teams have until Oct. 10 to reach an agreement before a state-ordered 60-day cooling off period ends. They meet again on Friday.

Transportation officials release $21 million BART strike contingency plan

Bay Area transportation officials released a strike contingency plan that would be bigger than the response that took place during the July strike and would cost up to $21 million.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that BART would use 200 free charter buses, triple the number used during the first strike. Carpool lanes on I-880 and I-680 along the BART corridor in the East Bay would also be enforced all day and new, temporary diamond lanes would go in on Highway 24 near the Caldecott Tunnel.

AC Transit, San Francisco Muni and the ferries will also be running extra service. BART officials also say they are looking into allowing managers run a small number of trains. Union leaders say that would threaten the public's safety.

BART management and both unions met on Wednesday, but neither side has reported much progress in recent days.

The 60-day cooling off period ends on Oct. 11, which is the earliest a strike could happen.


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