11:27 AM: BART trains are running again, but riders still faced delays and overcrowded trains on their trips to work this morning.
On Monday night, BART unions and management announced that a tentative labor agreement had been reached and that the system would run limited trains starting at 4 a.m., with full service expected by the afternoon commute.
However, because of staffing problems, trains didn’t actually start running until 5:42 a.m., BART spokesman Jim Allison said.
It took Ben Collins, 31, an hour this morning to take BART from Oakland to San Francisco where he works as an intern for the city’s Department of the Environment. His commute normally takes less than 20 minutes, he said.
He arrived at 19th Street BART around 8 a.m. to find the first San Francisco-bound train full, but managed to catch another train about 15 minutes later.
There then was a brief delay at the Embarcadero BART station because of a medical emergency on another train, and arrived at the Civic Center station shortly before 9 a.m.
While Collins is glad BART is running again, he said, “It’s unfortunate that it took two people dying for both sides to come to an agreement.”
He was referring to the deaths of two workers who were hit by a train Saturday afternoon while doing maintenance work on the tracks near the Walnut Creek station. The circumstances of the deaths remain under investigation, but a National Transportation Safety Board investigator said Monday that the train’s operator was in training at the time of the accident.
Emily Walker, 29, also came from the 19th Street BART station to the city this morning. She works as a financial aid counselor at the California Institute of Integral Studies near Mission and 11th streets.
She said she has previously seen people push and shove each other just to board a BART train but didn’t see any scuffles this morning.
“I think sometimes inconveniences like this can bring out the ugly in people,” she said.
Sharad Vivek, 41, boarded a train from the Lafayette BART station to San Francisco where he works in business development at Twitter.
His commute usually takes about 30 minutes but took about 40 minutes today because the train arrived 10 minutes later than scheduled.
Vivek said he is “sympathetic” to the unions because they have the right to ask for what they want, but that BART management needs to ensure that it has enough money to make the system run efficiently.
“It’s not an easy process for anyone,” he said of the contract talks.
Jamey Padojino, Bay City News