Maybe it’s because it’s Fourth of July week, or perhaps it’s because the temperature is forecast to hit the 80s today, but many Berkeleyans seemed to be opting to stay home rather than face a commute without BART.
Despite the news that BART employees would strike today, not a single person was waiting in line to get a ride at the casual carpool at the intersection of Claremont and College avenues at 7:45 am this morning — although there was a fair number of cars waiting for takers.
A driver waiting at the head of the carpool line said, “I think people are worried about how to get back. A lot of people take the casual carpool into the city and then BART back.”
A similar scene played out a couple of hours later at the casual carpool pick-up spot outside the North Berkeley BART station where a Berkeleyside reporter spotted few cars and even fewer carpool riders. One person who was getting a ride as he does every day said he had expected to see more people.
Others had anticipated encountering more cyclists on the road. But the Bike Station on Shattuck Ave. had plenty of bike parking — probably because many of its customers usually drop off their bikes before getting on BART.
A small group of strikers held picket signs outside the downtown Berkeley BART station this morning — bursting every so often into a bout of chanting. The ocasional car driver honked their horn in support as they passed. Nearby an orderly line of people waited to board AC Transit buses. It was long but not overly so. Another Berkeleyside reporter hopped onto a near-empty 51B bus at around 9:30 am today after three arrived at the stop in quick succession.
However many parking garages in downtown Berkeley were full, suggesting that those who had chosen to get to work had jumped in their cars.
And it was a different story on the roads surrounding Berkeley. The Chronicle reported bumper-to-bumper traffic and several crashes on westbound Interstate 80 which backed up traffic through Berkeley early today. Westbound Highway 24 headed to the Caldecott Tunnel was also jammed early on.
A California Highway Patrol officer said traffic on the Bay Bridge heading into San Francisco was backed up into the MacArthur Maze as early as 6 a.m.
Workers from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 announced at midnight Sunday that their contract had expired without a new offer from BART. They then began picketing at the Lake Merritt BART station in Oakland, near to where contract negotiations had been underway.
There is no knowing when the BART strike will end. The last time workers went on strike, in 1997, it lasted six days. Check BART online for updates and information on shuttle buses and free parking in their lots, and/or follow them on Twitter at @SFBART.
If you usually rely on using BART for your work commute, let us know in the Comments what you are seeing out there and what your plans are in the coming days.
BART on strike Monday: commuters seek alternative options (07.01.13)