OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Commuter rail service resumed Friday in the San Francisco Bay Area after unions called off a strike and agreed to extend a labor contract for a month while bargaining continues.
Thirty-five trains were put back in service in time for an expected light evening commute, the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency said.
Frances DeLoach of Oakland was among the dozens of commuters who lined up at the West Oakland station for the first trains to San Francisco after nearly five days without service.
DeLoach, catering supervisor at AT&T Park, was excited that she didn't have to drive and pay as much as $50 to park, and could take the time to focus on preparing her staff before the Giants-Dodgers game.
"I sure hope BART and those unions can resolve their issues," DeLoach said.
The current contract between BART, the nation's fifth-largest rail system, and its two largest unions will be extended for 30 days after expiring earlier this week.
"The parties will continue to negotiate just as hard as they are now," California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern said late Thursday. "The battle's not over. The job's not done."
Morgenstern said he and two top state mediators urged the bargaining parties to agree to an extension of the current labor deal. Both groups had said they were far apart in negotiations, but details were not provided.
"Unfortunately, the issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved," BART General Manager Grace Crunican said.
Key sticking points in the labor dispute include salaries, pensions, health care and safety.
Josie Mooney, a chief negotiator for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, asked the public to help keep the parties on task.
"We stand together tonight and we expect to be standing together with a new contract at the end of Aug. 4 and we hope to goodness that you insist that all the parties do the right thing," Mooney said.
BART serves more than 400,000 commuters each weekday. It carries passengers from the farthest reaches of San Francisco's densely populated eastern suburbs to San Francisco International Airport across the bay.
The strike began early Monday after negotiations broke off. Talks resumed Tuesday amid mounting political and public pressure. Negotiations continued on Wednesday and again for nearly 12 hours on Thursday before the parties announced the strike was over.
The stoppage caused stress and frustration in the region. Commuters lined up early in the morning to either carpool, wait for BART's free charter buses or catch ferries heading to San Francisco while enduring heavy rush-hour traffic on the Bay Bridge.
Commuter Star Salgado, 27, of Richmond, said Friday that she hasn't given up on BART but may continue carpooling.
"This week was such an inconvenience that I don't know if I can put up with BART right now," Salgado said after opting to take the transit agency's free shuttle into San Francisco. "I just want to get through today."
BART said workers from the two unions now 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.
BART's previous strike lasted for six days in 1997.
Antonette Bryant, the ATU Local 1555 president, said late Thursday that BART is "on notice" and has 30 days to hammer out a new deal.
"We're not going to let them hijack us and the riding public and we are deeply sorry this had to happen," Bryant said.
Follow Terry Collins at https://twitter.com/APtcollins.