Thousands of San Francisco Bay Area commuters were left without rail service Monday as the BART strike moved into its fourth day.
The second strike by Bay Area Rapid Transit workers in four months produced traffic jams and frustration Friday -- the first day of the shutdown -- but officials predicted Monday would be much worse.
Transportation officials said they believed many commuters took Friday off or telecommuted, relieving the crush to get in and out of San Francisco and around the East Bay. But that wasn’t expected to happen again on the first day of a new work week.
BART, the nation's fifth-largest transit system, normally carries 400,000 passengers each workday. Despite adding more charter buses for the Monday commute, they would be able to accommodate only a fraction of BART riders. AC Transit, which serves the East Bay and runs direct routes in and out of San Francisco, carried full loads Friday.
Many commuters on Monday had already built in extra time into their schedules as they lined up for limited spots on charter buses.
“I have to get up about a half-hour earlier,” Al Buena Ventura told KTVU-TV.
Long lines had already formed before 6 a.m. for the other transit alternative: ferries. Having added four additional ferries, the San Francisco Bay Ferry system is able to carry nearly 20,000 passengers on workdays during the strike, compared with the usual load of 6,000.
"If the strike goes into Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I think at that point we will see the real demand for normal fall commute,” said Ernest Sanchez, a spokesman for San Francisco Bay Ferry.
BART workers decided to strike Thursday after management refused to submit a dispute about work rules to binding arbitration, union leaders said. Both sides had reached an agreement on employee contributions to pensions and health plans and were close to agreeing on wages.
Though there were no immediate plans for the two sides to return to the negotiating table, the BART board of directors planned an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the latest developments.
Officials had also expanded hours for carpool lanes. The headache for commuters, though, was expected to last all day.
Susan McDonald told KTVU on Monday as she lined up for the ferry that getting to work wasn’t the hard part because there were fewer people to deal with in the early morning hours.
“I think coming home is more difficult,” she said.
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