OAKLAND (AP) — As another potential strike looms, Bay Area Rapid Transit officials are preparing other ways to get commuters to work, including possibly allowing managers to drive a limited number of trains.
BART management and labor leaders resumed contract negotiations last week, but little progress has been made on key issues, including wages, pensions and health care benefits. They’re scheduled to return to the bargaining table Monday.
If no deal is reached, employees could strike as early as Oct. 11, when a cooling-off period ordered last month by Gov. Jerry Brown expires.
BART workers walked off the job for four and a half days in early July, leading to major traffic jams throughout the Bay Area. Transportation officials say a strike in mid-October would cause more disruption because fewer people are on vacation.
“There was considerable pain inflicted on the region in July ... That pain is going to be much worse in October,” John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss contingency plans to handle another strike at BART, which carries about 400,000 passengers a day. Likely moves include expanding bus and ferry service, adding carpool lanes and encouraging people to telecommute or commute during off-peak traffic hours.
BART officials are considering allowing managers who were previously certified train operators to run a small number of trains if workers go on strike.
Last week, the agency moved two of its rail cars to a Mare Island warehouse to re-familiarize about a dozen certified managers and instruct other managers who are in classroom training, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.
“We have to prepare for a possibly very long strike,” Trost told KTVU-TV. “We are talking about very limited service — just running from the East Bay a couple trains into the city.”
Union leaders say that move would endanger riders because there aren’t enough managers to operate trains, manage the stations and perform necessary maintenance while doing their own jobs.
“We would like them to come to the table with the same level of intensity to get a contract as opposed to training people that aren’t ready to do the job,” Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said to KGO-TV.