Few Alternatives For Commuters Ahead Of Possible BART Strike

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Bay Area Rapid Transit’s unionized employees will meet on Tuesday to vote for a strike authorization that could lead to a walkout within a week. The result, transit officials said, would become a regional transportation emergency that will have commuters looking for alternatives of which there are few.

BART’s daily ridership consists of about 400,000 commuters and most of the major mass transit operations in the Bay Area are already at or near capacity. Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn, for example, told KCBS that their trains are already packed.

“Many Caltrain trains are already at capacity or near capacity during the peak commute so we’re not going to be able to carry everybody who might want to ride,” she said. “If you do a longer train, it doesn’t always fit on a platform and the other issue is that we don’t have a lot of spare equipment; we are operating all the equipment we have.”

The situation is similar for AC Transit, Muni, SamTrans, and the ferry boats. John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said that top transit officials and the California Highway Patrol will convene on Tuesday to plan for a BART walkout—the same day the strike vote is set.

“Make no mistake, the loss of BART service would be regional transit emergency,” he said. “The impact is going to be widely felt all around the region, whether you ride BART or not.”

Extra buses and ferry boats will be put into service but Goodwin said it would be unrealistic to think that those additional services will make up for the loss of BART service. Commuters, he said, will need to be patient and that ride sharing might be the best alternative.

“It’s unused seats in people’s cars that can provide the capacity that make up for 400,000 lost BART trips,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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