BART Strike Likely To Overwhelm Other Transit Agencies

Muni_Citywide_Map_6_26_09.gifClick to enlarge: A map of Muni lines that displaced BART commuters can consider taking during a strike. Photo courtesy SFMTA.

A BART strike will leave hundreds of thousands of riders in search of an alternate commute on Monday. Since most of the region’s largest transit agencies are already operating near capacity during peak hours, new riders – as well as current riders – will have to squeeze onto already-crowded buses and trains.

AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said the BART strike could be "a real nightmare" for people who need to cross the Bay. Unlike nearly every other agency in the Bay Area, AC Transit does plan to provide some additional service, depending on how many extra buses and drivers are available. Johnson said the agency doesn’t have "a whole lot of extra buses" or drivers though, and it won’t be adding any new routes to substitute for BART service. Johnson said he isn’t sure how long AC Transit could handle the extra strain caused by the BART strike.

While it won’t be providing extra service, Muni will prioritize service along routes that duplicate BART service, including the 14 Mission, 49 Van Ness-Mission, J Church, and N Judah (to and from Caltrain at 4th and King.) This will mostly be limited to making sure these lines run on schedule and runs aren’t missed, however, so these routes are still likely to be packed.

Caltrain, VTA, Golden Gate Transit, and SamTrans will all operate regular service.

Bicyclists who need to cross into the city from the East Bay may be best off taking a ferry. Most ferry providers will operate additional service, and some already have extra capacity available, so East Bay commuters may want to consider the ferry over other means of travel. AC Transit is also an option for bay-crossing bicyclists, but their buses will likely be full to capacity, and only carry two or four bikes per vehicle (though additional folding bikes are welcome on board if there is space.)

Randy Rentschler, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said residents should plan ahead, since the capacity provided by "BART can’t be replicated" by other agencies, especially given current budget constraints.

A BART strike will test the region’s ingenuity, especially given that BART has 85,000 more daily riders now than it did in 1997, when its last strike occurred. "The people of the Bay Area have shown to be resourceful and resilient," said Rentschler, who also encouraged telecommuting, carpooling and flexible work hours.

If bicycling or walking to work is not an option, we wish you luck navigating a BART-less Bay Area. has more exhaustive information about each transit agency’s plan and other commute options during the strike.

What have we missed? Please add it in the comments section. And how do you plan on getting to work Monday morning without BART?

  • Anonymous

    Other transit agencies need to strike now! An offense to one is an offense to many!

  • Brian

    And just wait. Over Labor Day weekend, the Bay Bridge will be shut down too.
    That will be fun. Hope all the Burners get out in time.

  • Miriam

    It’s not transit, but some BART riders might want to look into carpooling. 511 has a ridematching database for the Bay Area which can give you a list of people who live and work near you and have similar work hours. Register at

  • Frank

    Get a clue Bart Workers…..

  • I cannot believe BART is going on strike. The last time this happened it was a nightmare.
    In this economy both sides need to give a little.
    In the meantime – 300,000 people have to look for another way to get to work – what a joke.

  • ZA

    If there is a strike…for those who can bike to work Monday, please do! It’ll make room on buses and trains for those who have no alternative, and just might keep a highway nightmare from occurring.

    Chat with your neighbors this weekend and see if any of them will give it a go.

    Remember bike safely and politely!

  • Boris

    It sure would be nice if BART simply fired all of the workers and hired new ones. It might be a tough month or so getting everyone trained and dealing with no service, but it could really help BART in the long run so that we don’t deal with this crap every few years. And I say this as someone sympathetic to labor most of the time, but c’mon workers? Seriously? Now? With the wages and benefits that you have? I’d love to see government somewhere hold the line on out of control public sector unions. Might as well be here and now.

  • Henry James

    Let’s get something straight (and this comments on Mr. Roth’s story following): wages and benefits have risen much faster than inflation. Take a look at the federal reports between 2000 and 2007 — in that time, the cost of living increased 19 percent. BART’s hourly operating cost increased from $201 per hour to $249 per car hour (a 24 percent increase) while the wage costs increased from $258m annually in 2000 to $361m in 2007 — a 40% increase!!! Sorry ATU, your wages are increasing at TWICE the rate of inflation. No wonder you have absolutely no support with the public. I hope BART will immediately hire replacement workers.

  • @Henry James – and you’re not even counting the fact that average workers wages across all sectors are have probably not matched inflation over the last 7 years…

  • Bobz

    BART Management needs to start bargaining in good faith instead of adopting the “My way or the highway tactics”. It seems they have been counting on their customers to back them rather than the workers. Sorry, I am backing the workers who have already made significant concessions and BART management has made none. BART has been giving us all the run around while they pretend to negotiate but in reality do nothing. Get back to the bargaining table and give the workers a fair deal.

  • CT

    I will give the worker a fair deal. I will take their job for half the price. I am sure the will be a long line waiting as well.

  • Anonymous

    Boris, CT

    Let me just add to the list of people who think that this strike is ridiculous and its long past time to fire all BART’s station attendants and train operators and replace them with new, reasonably paid workers. The line for a $10-15/hour job with benefits would be long indeed.

  • “In this economy,” has a ring of sensationalism that makes it harder to swallow everyday. The job loss rate leveled out a while ago.All the passengers who rely on BART are still responsible for themselves. Nobody who worked for BART became the bearer of that burden. If you think that something like public transit is a right, you’ve got a lot of protesters to thank for things like an 8 hour workday and desegregated public places.

  • Boris

    @Will Ood

    8 hour workday and desegregated public places does not equal the extravagant wages and benefits that BART workers receive. I would love to make the amount they make, with the benefits they get. I’d do their job for their benefits and HALF the pay. Eight hour workdays with paid lunches?

    If unions were still working for the rights of the common man, I could support this strike, but unions (especially California public sector unions) couldn’t care less about the common man – especially the common man who is dependent on BART to get to work. It’s now a “I got mine, so screw you” situation for most public sector unions, which will eventually end up biting them in the butt down the road, as public support for labor continues to fall (to the detriment of us all, unfortunately, as there is a need for labor to have a voice – it just has to be a voice based in reality with the good of ALL labor in mind, not just their particularly union).

  • danny

    The driver on the $1 Caltrans bike shuttle this morning said they would be running an extra van on Monday, essentially doubling capacity.

  • SfResident

    Does anybody have hard and fast numbers on the hourly wages and benefits of BART workers who do various jobs? I’ve noodled around a bit and not been able to find anything from what looks like an even vaguely impartial source.

    I keep hearing all this rhetoric about gold-plated salaries and benefits and, while it might be true, rhetorically inflating the compensation of workers is a time-honored union-busting strategy.

    And a $10 and hour job in the Bay Area is not adequate compensation for a real job. It’s fine pay for teenagers and young folk just out of high-school but it is not a viable long-term option. If you try and raise a family on that then you’ll be living near poverty or you’ll have to take two jobs. I don’t want our rapid transit workers to be living in poverty or to come to work tired from their night-job. It’s an issue of both safety and decency.

    All that being said, the BART strikers aren’t selling their case very well, which makes me suspect that they may not have much of a case. . .

  • John Hancock
  • SFResident

    @John Hancock.

    Thanks. After looking at that link BART base salaries seem pretty reasonable. The overtime expenses are not reasonable. The union shouldn’t expect much public support for their action. . .

  • Boris

    @SFResident – the other thing that are not reasonable are the work rules (which in turn lead to the overtime).

  • Jeff McKnight

    Anybody have additional info (official confirmation, updated schedule, links, etc) about danny’s comment that Caltrans would be running an extra bike shuttle van on Monday?

  • Jeff McKnight

    Seems like the rumors of an extra bike shuttle van are true. From the Caltrans “BART Strike Assistance” page:

    “Caltrans offers a shuttle service between the MacArthur BART station in Oakland and the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. Caltrans will add a second bike shuttle during the commute periods.”

  • Jeff McKnight

    Oops. Link somehow got deleted. Trying again.

    Caltrans “BART Strike Assistance” page

    “Caltrans offers a shuttle service between the MacArthur BART station in Oakland and the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. Caltrans will add a second bike shuttle during the commute periods.”

  • OK, third and last attempt to share Caltrans “BART Strike Assistance” URL. If this doesn’t work, you’ll just have to google it.

  • Jeff McKnight

    Regarding the Caltrans Bike Shuttle between Macarthur BART and the Transbay Terminal, I received an email from a Caltrans rep earlier today (Su 8/16, 3:30pm PDT) which seems to indicate that there will be two bike shuttle vans instead of one for each bridge run, with the schedule and pickup locations remaining the same as usual. I hope this pans out like it sounds.

    Actual response from Caltrans:
    “I think it will be at the same time, but I’ll let you know if I’m wrong.
    Same stops. This is to handle extra capacity in the event of a BART strike
    and will be temporary at this point.”

  • Gerrard

    I hope the BART workers DO strike, if for no other reason than to demonstrate that workers have power. If they are relatively well paid during this crisis imposed on us – good for them! We ALL deserve to make a living wage and if we’re going to criticize people for making too much money, I can thing of a lot of other places to point the finger! (e.g the bailed-out bankers, lenders, auto execs, etc.) I do not believe that “public opinion” is really against this potential strike, I think the public would be happy to see somebody asserting themselves for a change. Now if the BART workers were smart (and maybe more adventurous), they would start a SOCIAL STRIKE, during which the trains keep running but fares are not collected or enforced. Would BART police and other non-striking sectors support this in solidarity? Such a tactic was used successfully in Italy in the 1970s, they called it “self-reduction” and it spread to encompass whole cities. People stuck together to back the just grievances of their neighbor, and it paid off. Does the SF Bay Area have the guts to try something like this?


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