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Gridlock Throughout Bay Area On 1st Day Of BART Strike

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Commuters line up to board the San Francisco Bay Ferry on the first day of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) strike on October 18, 2013 in Oakland, California. For the second time this year, BART workers have gone on strike after contract negotiations between BART management and the transit agency's two largest unions fell apart on Thursday afternoon. Management and unions agreed on the financial specifics of the contract but differed on workplace safety rules. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Commuters line up to board the San Francisco Bay Ferry on the first day of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) strike on October 18, 2013 in Oakland. ( Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Friday evening commute was a little longer than usual for many Bay Area commuters, with would-be BART riders scrambling for alternate forms of transportation to get to and from work due to the BART strike.

Bay Area traffic delays increased around 30 percent above normal between 5 and 10 a.m. Friday, according to Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus.

The largest increase was seen on Interstate Highway 80 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, Haus said.

Interstate highways 580 and 880 saw delays around twice as high as normal around 7 a.m., and the carpool lane on Interstate Highway 80 leading up to the Bay Bridge saw around 50 to 100 percent more traffic than a typical Friday, Haus said.

Caitlyn McKenzie arrived at the West Oakland BART station around 8:45 a.m. only to find out that buses were filled to capacity.

She lives in West Oakland and works as an infant toddler teacher at Bright Horizons, a day care center near The Embarcadero.

She managed to catch a bus to Emeryville and boarded an Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus to the Transbay Terminal getting to work around noon.

“A lot of people have a lot of animosity towards (the BART employees) but I support their careers even though it’s an inconvenience for the Bay Area,” she said.

McKenzie made a copy of her coworker’s bus service pass that she used to board from San Francisco Friday evening.

The backup was felt in San Francisco, where city streets were heavily congested heading into the evening commute, especially at freeway entrances, according to a city transit official.

The California Highway Patrol reported heavy traffic on the Bay Bridge Friday evening.

Brentwood resident John Tanwani was on a bus that departed from San Francisco to West Oakland around 6:15 p.m.

From there he said he would take another bus to the Concord BART station.

He works as a data analyst for U.S. Department of Homeland Security off of Sutter Street.

Tanwani said it was “ridiculous” that BART management and its unions are trying to gain “control over the work rules.”

As he looked at the flood of cars attempting to get onto the Highway 80 on-ramp at Bryant Street he predicted his commute would take two hours.

With many drivers seeking alternate routes due to the BART strike, however, the congestion is extending to other corridors, said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Traffic on Friday has been heavy on the Highway 880 corridor and on state highways 24 and 37, among other places, Rentschler noted.

“What’s happening now is [U.S. Highway] 101 in Marin is getting backed up because people are taking [Highway] 580, and 580 is backed up,” Rentschler said.

“So even though BART is far away, even though you don’t take it, people are coming in from out of town,” Rentschler said.

Newark resident Ray Perez was on a bus from West Oakland to Fremont Friday evening around 7:15 p.m.

Perez and his wife took BART’s temporary bus service for the first time from the Fremont BART station Friday morning around 5:15 a.m.

He got into San Francisco two hours later where he works as an internal security manager at Bvlgari on Stockton Street.

During the July BART strike Perez drove into the city but “parking was a nightmare, especially in the city.” He finds the bus service “more relaxing.”

He was “frustrated” that BART employees are on strike and “thought the mediator said there was promising developments taking place.

“They’re not making any effort now to go back to the negotiating table and settle their differences,” Perez said.

Union officials presented a proposal to BART management Friday evening on a number of key issues that, if signed off, would have allowed trains to run as early as 10 p.m. Friday.

Management rejected that proposal, claiming it was “essentially a repeat of what was given at the bargaining table.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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