As a strike by BART workers looms next week, regular BART riders are being warned by the agency to expect major delays and to look for commute alternatives — or just stay home.
BART’s two biggest employee unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, announced this week that their members voted to authorize a strike.
A strike could begin as early as Monday morning since the unions’ contracts with BART expire Sunday. BART officials announced today that they will offer limited shuttle bus service during peak commute hours if a strike occurs. The commute-direction service will stop at the El Cerrito del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont stations and in San Francisco.
However, the buses will only carry around 2,000 to 4,000 passengers per day in each direction, depending on traffic. BART normally carries 400,000 passengers a day, including 96,000 across the Bay in the Transbay Tube during peak commute hours, which is 50 percent more than when BART workers last held a strike in 1997, Metropolitan Transportation Commission executive director Steve Heminger said earlier this week.
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit officials earlier this week said in a statement that they would offer some expanded transbay service “to the extent possible, depending on bus and operator availability.” But AC Transit faces its own strike threat and has limited capacity to absorb additional riders, according to agency officials.
The agency’s union contract also expires Sunday, the same day as those for the BART unions, and 97.4 percent of AC Transit employees voted last week to authorize a possible strike, according to union officials.
On the Peninsula, SamTrans will offer a temporary shuttle from Daly City and Colma to a temporary transit center on Mission Street in San Francisco. The shuttle will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, agency officials said.
Caltrain will attempt to respond to increased demand where possible, depending on the availability of equipment and crews.
However, both Samtrans and Caltrain already operate at or near capacity during commute hours and officials are warning commuters to expect delays. “If BART strikes, there will be a great deal of additional strain on all Bay Area transit operators,” said Chuck Harvey, deputy CEO of Samtrans, in a statement. “We’re asking commuters to be patient, plan ahead and leave additional time to get to their destinations.”
But the best advice for many commuters is to stay home if at all possible, or change their routines, according to transit officials, who are advising companies to allow telecommuting wherever possible or staggered work hours so commuters can avoid peak hours. Commuters could also consider carpooling. Parking will be free at all BART parking lots during a strike for those using carpools or other transit options.
All commuters are advised by transit officials to make sure that their Clipper cards are loaded, since some BART tickets may not be honored on other agencies, and to use Fastrak if driving.
For the best information on alternate routes, commuters are asked to check 511.org or call 511. In the event of a strike, the transit trip planner on the site will offer options excluding BART. The MTC this week voted to reimburse other regional transit agencies if they have to provide additional service because of a strike.
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