Tuesday's commute marred by car wrecks, slow rollout of BART service

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

BART service is slowly getting back to normal but many commuters still opted to drive to work this morning, and a series of crashes has slowed traffic to a crawl on many Bay Area roadways.

“Boy, there are a lot of accidents out there today,” Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

A 6:45 a.m. motorcycle accident on the Bay Bridge's westbound incline had traffic backed up for miles on several highways leading to the bridge.

Traffic was also snarled by crashes and stalls on the San Mateo Bridge and on northbound Interstate Highway 880, Goodwin said.

“Now that we look back on the couple days of the BART strike on Friday or Monday, we really need to thank our lucky stars that as many folks as were on the road, they weren't colliding with each other,” he said.

Goodwin said that during the strike, commuters were leaving for work extra early. The metering lights at the Bay Bridge were activated at about 5:30 a.m., when typically they don't go on until up to an hour later, he said.

Today, people are leaving later again, Goodwin said.

“Everybody's on the road right now,” he said shortly before 8 a.m.

He said he expects the afternoon commute to be smoother.

Meanwhile, BART is back up and running but not at full capacity.

“We have about a dozen fewer trains than we would normally have right now,” BART spokesman Jim Allison said.

As of 8 a.m. there were delays of about 20 minutes.

“Things are improving as we move further into the morning,” he said.

BART officials had initially hoped to begin service at 4 a.m. today, but trains didn't actually start running until 5:42 a.m., Allison said.

He said the problem was that BART was short-staffed because of the “short turnaround between the time the tentative agreement was reached and when we begin service.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 tweeted early this morning, “We don't have enough people for BART service just yet but we're working on it. Thank you for your patience.”v

BART continued to provide charter buses from East Bay stations to San Francisco today, as it did during the strike. Allison said 90 buses picked up passengers at nine stations this morning.

Allison credited employees who work in BART's operations center with getting the system going again, and asked for riders' patience as things get back to normal.

“We're really happy to be running trains again for them,” he said.

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