OAKLAND (KCBS / KPIX 5) — With a possible BART strike looming in October, the transit agency and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are working on contingency plans in the event of a walkout. One of the ideas being considered is limited train service operated by managers.
A 60-day cooling-off period ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown expires on October 10th. Negotiations between BART and its unions resume next week, but both sides remained far apart as of Friday.
“We’re $130 million apart and that’s a huge gap,” said BART Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier told KCBS.
The agency is making plans for a potential weeks-long walkout by preparing to run 100 buses from seven East Bay stations. The service would only replace 10 percent of BART’s capacity.
Also under consideration are some managers running limited train service. BART has about 200 managers, some having experience as train operators.
“That’s a planning exercise right now. We’re not sure that we’re going to be able to do that, but I will say that that’s something that we’re looking at,” Oversier said.
Under the current contract, BART would only be allowed to train those managers if a strike is called. Training takes 16 weeks.
Union officials said BART is playing with people’s lives, and that the managers don’t have the proper experience to operate a train.
“Having trains run by people that are not certified is not only a danger and a safety hazard, it’s irresponsible,” said Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
Saul Almanza of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 concurs. “It doesn’t take just train operators to move trains. It takes support staff of technicians and mechanics that they have yet to think about,” he said.
The unions also said management is missing the point. “Instead of trying to prepare, they should be sitting at the table with us, bargaining to get a contract,” Bryant said.
The MTC is also considering running a potential charter bus service should a strike occur.
“We are not taking sides. We have no dog in the fight one way. There’s a very fine line that has to be walked. Our interests are making sure that the people of the Bay Area can maximize their mobility in the event that there’s a BART strike,” said John Goodwin of the MTC.
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