Bay Area businesses impacted by BART strike

Some workers dodged the BART strike by not commuting at all. Their companies allowed them to work from home on Friday.
October 18, 2013 6:17:12 PM PDT
Some lucky workers avoided Friday's commute nightmare by plugging into the office remotely.

"You can see by the smile on my face I'm pretty excited that I don't have to deal with all the traffic nightmares today," said New Relic account executive Bill Anzo.

Anzo usually takes BART to downtown San Francisco to work at a tech startup. But his office for the duration of the strike is now the living room at his Danville home. Anzo works at New Relic, a startup software company that gave its BART commuters the option to avoid the inevitable gridlock the strike created.

"I actually, believe it or not, think I can be as productive because I'm still going to wake up at the same time," Anzo said. "The difference is instead of getting ready for my work day, getting into the car and going to BART, I'll just start working, making phone calls, using tools like I'm using right now to speak with you."

However, Anzo's boss, CEO Lewis Cirne, doesn't plan on working from home to be a long-term option.

"We focus on results," Cirne said. "And so, if it makes sense for somebody to work from home for whatever reason, we're certainly open to that idea. But let me be clear, we think that it's best when people are able to work closely together in the office." Technology from Santa Clara-based Citrix is making home work more feasible. While its GoToMeeting creates face-to-face conversations, it also enables file and screen sharing so up to 25 people can collaborate on projects.

"These products are very simple, easy to use, no training required," said Sampath Gomatam, Citrix Real-Time Collaboration Vice President. "It's all in the cloud, so you don't have to have implementations that take a long time."

The technology has boosted the number of people working at least once a week from home from 18 percent to 27 percent over the past two years.

Many other workers and businesses, however, do not have the option to work from home and are heavily impacted by a BART strike.

"Come Monday, it's going to be a mess," one person said.

Bahnu Bikram added, "I just end up sitting in traffic. People are not getting places."

Commuting is one problem. But getting your job done and making deliveries in muddled traffic is another.

"You're talking about over 400,000 people joining us on the streets," delivery truck driver Dave Cook said.

"I do expect my shift to go a little longer," delivery driver Andy Mondragon said. "Due to the traffic my shift, which is supposed to be six hours, will probably be extended to seven or eight."

Victoria Mitchell runs an organic food catering company. On Friday, a good portion of her staff never made it in.

"I think like 10 or 20 percent less," she said. "Maybe a little more."

"We're the ones suffering for it," Cook said. "Not the employees and not corporate."

How about those who serve the ones who suffer every day on the street? At St. Anthony's Friday morning, 25 percent of their volunteers failed to show up. Larry Miller did make it, but only by leaving the East Bay at 6 a.m. He says it took him an hour and 15 minutes to get there, as opposed to the usual 15 minutes.

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.


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