OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Transit officials on Monday warned San Francisco Bay area commuters that train workers would likely strike a second day after hundreds of workers demanding higher wages went on strike and the region's heavily used rail system ground to a halt.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency said that there had been no progress in labor negotiations with its two largest unions.
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.
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.
"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,"
Two of the largest unions representing Bay Area Rapid Transit workers went on strike early Monday after their contract expired Sunday night. No new talks were scheduled. It was the first strike by BART workers 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."
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.