BART Strike Ends; San Francisco Gridlock Starts To Unwind

Image: BART Strike Ends; San Francisco Gridlock Starts To Unwind

Tuesday, 22 Oct 2013 12:45 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A tentative agreement between BART – the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency – and two unions ended a four-day strike that stranded some commuters and gridlocked roadways with miles-long traffic during rush hour.

The agreement, which still has to be ratified, opened BART's rail system with limited service starting at 4 a.m. Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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Full service will be restored by late afternoon on Tuesday.

"This has got to be the last time that this happens," California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said while announcing the settlement Monday.

Newsom was dismayed by the deteriorating relationship between BART and its employees as well as the inconvenience the strike has caused commuters.

"This was a reminder this weekend that this was about people," Newsom said, according to the Chronicle. "Lots of people have had their lives affected by this."

Federal mediator Greg Lim nudged both sides in negotiations that continued into Sunday at the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission until their breakthrough on Monday.

In the mist of heated contract talks, two BART workers were killed when they were struck by a train on a maintenance run Saturday. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the train was being operated by an inexperienced driver.

While BART officials initially said that the train was running under computer control with an "experienced" operator in the driver's seat, the NTSB noted Monday that a "trainee" was actually operating the train on autopilot.

Chief investigator Jim Southworth told the Mercury News that the conductor blared on the horn when two people were spotted on the tracks, but the train was going 60 to 70 mph and could not stop in time.

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There has been 10 threats of a strike since June, which frustrated commuters had to decide whether to wait for possibly delayed trains or take a chance driving congested roadways.

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a 60-day cooling off period for both sides, but that ended Oct. 10, which led up to the strike.

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