Gridlock Fears: MTC Discusses Possible Impact Of BART Strike

Regional transit officials are warning commuters that there will be gridlock on Bay Area streets if BART workers go on strike next week.

BART’s two biggest employee unions, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, announced today that their members have voted to authorize a strike.

A potential strike could begin as early as Monday morning, as the unions’ contracts with BART expire Sunday.

At its meeting in Oakland today, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission discussed the effects a BART work stoppage would have on Bay Area transit.

The commission will be sending letters to employers in the region encouraging them to work with employees to find alternatives to driving during peak morning and evening commute hours, MTC officials said.

Telecommuting will be encouraged, as well as carpooling or using alternative transit services such as Alameda-Contra Costa Transit buses or ferries across the Bay.

BART provides about 400,000 rides daily, including 96,000 across the Bay in the Transbay Tube during peak commute hours, which is 50 percent more than when BART workers last held a strike in 1997, MTC executive director Steve Heminger said.

Because of that, “the impact is likely to be even more substantial,” Heminger said.

The commission approved Heminger’s request to reimburse other regional transit agencies if they have to provide additional service because of a strike.

The money would come mostly from up to $18.7 million in state funding to BART that the MTC has the authority to redirect toward the other agencies if necessary, Heminger said.

“The supplemental services … can in no way fully replace BART’s capacity in the event of a work stoppage,” Heminger wrote in his request to the commission. “But these services can make a bad situation somewhat better for a considerable number of travelers.”

Commuters are encouraged to call 511 or visit to review all travel alternatives.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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