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KCBS Cover Story: Buses The Primary Option To Replace Striking BART Trains

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Commuters line up to wait for an AC Transit bus on July 1, 2013 in Oakland, California. Hundreds of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area commuters are scrambling to find ways to work after the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 went on strike at midnight after contract negotiations with management fell apart on Sunday. Train operators, mechanics, station agents and maintenance workers are seeking a five percent wage increase and are fighting management who want to have workers to begin contributing to their pensions, pay more for health insurance and reduce overtime expenses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Commuters line up to wait for an AC Transit bus on July 1, 2013 in Oakland, California. Hundreds of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area commuters are scrambling to find ways to work after the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 went on strike at midnight after contract negotiations with management fell apart on Sunday. Train operators, mechanics, station agents and maintenance workers are seeking a five percent wage increase and are fighting management who want to have workers to begin contributing to their pensions, pay more for health insurance and reduce overtime expenses. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

MarkSeelig20100908_KCBS_0152r Mark Seelig
Mark Seelig was born and raised in the Bay Area...having grown up...
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – As negotiations continue between Bay Area Rapid Transit officials and labor union leaders, the question remains, will the two sides beat an August 4 deadline and avoid another strike?

The two sides remain far apart on numerous issues, including pay, pension, health benefits and safety concerns from employees. And a concern for those who use BART to commute each day – a fact made clear during a union press conference Tuesday.

So how to get around without the trains in service?

While it is impossible for one single Bay Area transit agency to carry the 400,000 or so people who ride BART each weekday, many are trying to accommodate as many as possible, in case a strike does occur.

“Our plan always is to take whoever shows up at any of our bus stops to whatever destination they’re trying to get to,” said AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson.

Unfortunately, Johnson said the agency doesn’t have too many extra buses to add to the mix. “So more than equipment, we would try to add extra runs. That is, using the same equipment more often,” Johnson said.

During the last strike in early July, BART pitched in with chartered shuttles and spokesperson Alicia Trost said if another strike occurs, commuters can expect more of the same.

“We are looking to get our hands on more buses,” she said.

Trost said they are also looking to expand the number of stations where the buses will be available.

“We’re looking at the Concord station as a good place to add another location because we saw such a demand at Walnut Creek,” she said.

So along with those two locations, shuttle service would be available at the Fremont, El Cerrito Del Norte, Dublin-Pleasanton and West Oakland stations. Trost said they are also looking at implementing more direct service to San Francisco, instead of a stopover in West Oakland.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Ed Reiskin said they’re working closely with other agencies to make the process as seamless as possible.

“As they bring folks in, Muni service is there to connect them with where they need to go,” he said. During the last strike, Muni expanded bus service along the Mission Corridor, which Reiskin said worked well, helping people coming up from the Peninsula to get around.

“That’s the main way that we can try to absorb some of the BART load,” he said.

Reiskin said they will also employ more parking control officers at busy intersections, helping to keep buses, cars and trucks moving. “They were working hard out there to try to keep the intersections clear and help people make their way to and from the bridge, which is where the big crunch was,” he said.

More Caltrain and Samtrans service is expected as well.

One thing all transit officials agree on – plan ahead, with one of the best tools being 511.org.

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

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