SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As commuters scrambled to make it to and from work Monday without Bay Area Rapid Transit for the first time in 16 years, economists estimated the first day of the BART strike cost the region $73 million in lost worker productivity alone.
The Bay Area Council Economic Institute said that figure, which did not include the cost of overall lost economic activity, would steadily increase each day the region “reels from the loss of its most critical mass transit system.” The strike looked likely to continue into a second day with no progress reported.
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BART is the nation’s fifth-largest rail system with 44 stations in four counties and 104 miles of lines; it handles more than 40 percent of Bay Area commuters in what transportation officials noted is the second-most congested region in the nation.
“The Bay Area economy is suffering, along with hundreds of thousands of commuters,” Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, told CBS San Francisco via e-mail. “There is an additional hit to economic activity that we know is happening but which we can’t easily quantify, but which could add tens of millions of dollars to the total.”
As the workday drew to a close Monday, evening commuters lined up early for ferries, buses and casual carpools as traffic on area freeways quickly backed up.
Officials said the East Bay’s Alameda County Transit buses carried an unusually high volume of passengers, while the San Francisco Bay Ferry said it saw three times its normal ridership.
Caltrans estimated the biggest commuting delay added 25 minutes to the stretch of Highway 80 between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge, while the heaviest traffic was to the south along a stretch of Highway 880, which was twice as heavy as a week ago.