BART Strike Day 2: Negotiations Resume

By Christie Smith, Bob Redell and Lisa Fernandez
|  Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013  |  Updated 7:39 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith reports from Oakland. Commuters appear to be more frustrated as the strike goes on.

NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith reports from Oakland. Commuters appear to be more frustrated as the strike goes on.

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BART Strike: Day Two

Commute chaos, bridge backups, filled buses and jam-packed ferries as commuters try to get into San Francisco during the second day of the BART strike. Bob Redell and Christie Smith report.

BART Strike Creates Commuter Confusion

Many commuters experienced confusion and difficulty navigating throughout the Bay Area during the first day of the BART strike. George Kiriyama reports.
More Photos and Videos

BART contract negotiations resumed Tuesday evening, with the agency announcing a tentative agreement with one of the striking unions.

Negotiations continue this evening between BART and the union representing the majority of its workforce.

Earlier in the day, BART and AFSCME Local 3993 announced a tentative deal, with the agency urging its members to report to work immediately.

AFSCME Local 3993 has more than 200 members who serve as supervisorial and professional staff for the agency.

Meanwhile, Tuesday proved to be another day of sluggish commuting for Bay Area residents.

The two unions on strike since Monday met Tuesday morning to rehash their strategy and focus.

"After one full day of no meetings, we are eager to get back to the table," said BART Spokesman Rick Rice in a statement.

Riders, though, were growing weary of the strike, now in its second day.

"I’m very frustrated, I’m frustrated at the union," said Ezra Curry of Hayward. "I’m frustrated at BART in general for making people wait this long. This is too much. It doesn’t need to go no longer than today, this is way too much."

BART management and other transit agencies tried to fill in the gaps left by no train service. But there were definite strains on service.

BART added 36 charter buses - double the number on Monday - to serve the West Oakland Station and transbay passengers during the strike's second day. But by 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, BART buses serving Walnut Creek, Fremont, El Cerrito del Norte and Dublin with "filled to capacity," leaving commuters in those cities stuck if they wanted to get to work on time.

The buses will operate from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and will return from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. BART buses will also continue to serve the El Cerrito del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont stations from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and returning from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"It's been a hassle," Vincent Martinez, who took a bus from Oakland to work on Monday in what became a two-hour commute. "I hope they resolve this soon.

Also, ferries were a popular way of commuting. On Monday, ferry ridership soared to 18,000, triple the normal number.  And at 5 a.m. Tuesday, long lines were already forming in Oakland for the San Francisco-bound ferries.

A big question, too, was how bad the traffic would be during Tuesday's 7 p.m. game between the Oakland A's and Chicago Cubs. Early in the day, the A's were recommending that people carpool to the game, and park for free in the BART lot by the O.Co Coliseum.

BART officials on Monday evening released a statement saying it has received no indication that employees will return to work on Tuesday and that commuters should make alternative plans.

PLAN YOUR COMMUTE: BART Strike Resources

No further bargaining sessions have occurred since representatives from Service Employees International Union Local 1221 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 left the table on Sunday, and none are currently scheduled.

BART spokesman Rick Rice said on Monday that management has conveyed to mediators the hope that talks can be scheduled "very soon" and that BART is "prepared to negotiate the significantly improved proposal we delivered on Saturday."

Employees announced their intention to strike midnight Sunday, just after their contract expired.

IMAGES: BART Workers Picket, Commuters Find Alternate Routes

The walkout derailed hundreds of thousands of riders who use the nation's fifth-largest rail system each day, forcing them to find other means of transportation in the second-most congested region in the country.

Monday's morning rush hour did not come to a standstill as feared, and some travelers who used carpool lanes and other options added relatively little time to their commutes.

Later, evening commuters lined up early for ferries, buses and casual carpools to get a jump on the heavy traffic. That commute also could have been worse.

"It's been an absolute nightmare for some commuters, but we didn't see total gridlock," said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization focused on public transportation and walkable communities. "Everybody got so worried about potential congestion they found an alternative."

Monday's work stoppage was the first strike by BART employees since a six-day walkout in 1997.

"We are sorry that the (unions') actions ... have caused such a tremendous disruption to the people of the Bay Area," the transit agency said in a statement. "We are working hard to bring a fair and responsible resolution to labor talks."

MORE: BART Workers Strike, Commuting Headaches

Theresa Tramble, 23, and Antanisha Thompson, 24, who usually ride BART trains together from Oakland to San Francisco, were upset after their long, hard commute. They usually enjoy a $5.85 round-trip on a line deep beneath the bay on the quiet, cushioned seats of BART trains. Instead, they rode a bus -- a noisy, jerking ride that cost $4.20 one way, almost doubling the price of their commute.

How was the ride?

"Super crowded, super hot," groaned Thompson, who works at a drug store in San Francisco.

At her side, Tramble said she had to get up two hours early and spent two hours at an Oakland bus stop. On her last day of college, she was worrying about final exams.

California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Diana McDermott said it could have been worse.

"It's summertime and a holiday week, so plenty of people didn't go to work," she said. "Others had prepared for it, or they were able to work from home, and we saw lots of informal carpooling."

Transit authorities also made accommodations, including longer carpool lane hours, additional ferries, and extra buses and bike shuttles over the Bay Bridge.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Hahn said the biggest delay added 25 minutes to a stretch of Highway 80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The heaviest traffic, he said, was to the south along a stretch of Highway 880, which was twice as heavy as a week ago.

MORE: Reaction of #BARTStrike on Social Media

BART said train operators and station agents in the unions average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually. The workers also pay a flat $92 monthly fee for health insurance.

Rice said the agency had upped its original offer of a 4 percent pay increase over the next four years to 8 percent. The proposed salary increase is on top of a 1 percent raise employees were scheduled to receive Monday, Rice added.

The transit agency also said it offered to reduce the contribution employees would have to make to pensions, and lower the cost for health care premiums.

BART, with 44 stations in four counties and 104 miles of lines, handles more than 40 percent of commuters coming from the East Bay to San Francisco, said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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