BART riders fed up with all-night strike watch sessions

Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. ExaminerA broken section of rail that led to major BART delays could be from a batch of bad rail

Few people want an end to the BART labor saga more than Stan Green — and he doesn’t work for the train system or one of its unions.

The Martinez man doesn’t even ride the trains every day. But he spent most of Tuesday afternoon outside the Caltrans building in downtown Oakland — where another day went by with no resolution in the negotiations between BART and its unions over a new contract, more than six months after bargaining started.

Green’s interest is solely for the people, who are being “held hostage” by the uncertainty of whether the trains will run or if they will be among the hundreds of thousands of people whose daily BART rides are canceled due to a strike.

“Enough is enough — people have reached their limits,” Green said as he held up a homemade multicolored sign calling for a ban on BART strikes. “It’s a tragic situation. We need to be set free.”

Twice over the past week, BART’s unions gave notice that they would strike unless the transit agency moved closer to its workers’ demands on pay raises and contributions to health care and pensions. Twice BART has refused to budge, and twice workers have stayed on the job.

BART estimates about 85,000 riders have responded by staying away, according to spokeswoman Alicia Trost, with commuters turning to carpools or ferries.

On Wednesday, commuters expressed a weary frustration over the lengthy drama and signaled a desire to have it all end now.

“I wish they’d stop,” twice-daily BART rider Rhonda Brown said as the Oakland resident waited for her evening train home at the Montgomery Street station.

The labor drama and strike threats have cost her sleep, as she has spent the previous two nights staying up late waiting for word on whether trains would be running the next day — the Monday night announcement actually came at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“I’m tired of that,” Brown said.

As for which side she stands on? “They’re both greedy,” she said.

Yahoo employee Dean, who declined to give his last name, waited for a Peninsula-bound train on the opposite side of the Montgomery platform. He doesn’t ride BART every day, but the nation’s fifth-largest train network still figures heavily into his plans.

“Everything’s day to day. You can’t plan,” said the Millbrae resident, 37, for whom the BART boondoggle combined with the federal government impasse is too much to handle.

“I’m just fed up with it,” Dean said. “They just need to make it [an agreement] happen.”

Staying away

BART ridership has dipped each of the three days following late-night “will they-won’t they” decisions over a strike in the past week.

Friday: 42,330 fewer riders than normal

Monday: 15,471 fewer riders than normal

Tuesday: 27,131 fewer riders than normal

NOTE: BART averages 400,000 daily weekday boardings, but sees more on Fridays in the fall and less on holidays like Monday’s Columbus Day.

Source: BART

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