SAN FRANCISCO, July 2 San Francisco's regional
rail system and its striking employees were to resume mediation
on Tuesday evening after another painful commute for thousands
forced onto crowded roads, buses and ferries with no train
service for a second day.
"We're seriously hoping to make some progress to get our
people back and our trains rolling," said Rick Rice, a spokesman
for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, on the second day
of a strike by about 2,400 of its employees.
BART serves 400,000 riders daily. With its trains idled
since Monday morning, thousands of riders across the San
Francisco region drove to work, creating traffic nightmares on
many of its roads.
The strike is the first by BART employees since 1997. It
began after talks with management faltered late on Sunday just
hours before labor agreements expired.
The two sides have been far apart for months and talks broke
down repeatedly before resuming Sunday afternoon at the behest
of Governor Jerry Brown.
BART has put forward a "fair and responsible" offer that
included an 8 percent pay increase over four years that union
negotiators rejected, according to its spokesman.
Union representatives said management has not negotiated in
Three other California officials on Tuesday sought to prod
the two sides back to the bargaining table.
"Given the massive dislocation a protracted strike will
cause, you owe the people of the Bay Area your time, your
concentration and your best good-faith effort at reaching a
bargained agreement. It is our collective opinion that, so far,
you have fallen short," a letter from State Controller John
Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Lieutenant
Governor Gavin Newsom said.
With BART trains out of action, local officials have added
extra buses and ferries to shuttle commuters from cities on the
east side of San Francisco Bay such as Oakland to San Francisco.
The additional transport accommodates only a fraction of
commuters who use BART trains. Routes to and from San Francisco
and East Bay communities are among BART's busiest.
If they could, commuters worked from home. Many used
carpools. But heavy traffic pointed to many others driving on
their own and choking some highways, especially the Bay Bridge
linking the East Bay and San Francisco.
Additional time commuters spend sitting in traffic will cost
the San Francisco region's economy $73 million in lost worker
productivity each day the strike persists, according to the Bay
Area Economic Institute.