The 60-day cooling-off period ends on October 10th, and this time there's a $21 million contingency plan in the works to deal with the traffic fallout, including actual trains operated by managers, new carpool rules, and three times as many BART shuttles. This is because as opposed to July, BART ridership peaks in the fall, and the impact of a strike is expected to be far greater, should one happen.
And as the Chron reported this week, "not much appears to be happening at the BART bargaining table," and the unions have threatened a lengthy and painful strike. We'll remind you again here that we could be talking about a strike like in 1979, when BART wasn't even used as much as it is now, and workers went on strike for three months.
The new contingency plan will include more carpool lanes approaching the Bay Bridge, and carpool lane enforcement that lasts all day on routes not even close to the bridge, including I-880 and I-680. I-580 may also open up to truck traffic, which is usually banned, in order to alleviate congestion. BART will run three times as many commuter shuttle buses to help alleviate the pain for peak-hour travelers, and, like in 1979, some managers are going to step in to operate trains through the Transbay tube on a limited schedule. BART operators' contracts have a stipulation in them, written after that 1979 strike, that non-union, non-certified operators can not begin training on the operation of the trains until a strike has occurred, and then they have to take a 15-week safety course before they can begin driving the trains.
BART management appears getting around that by doing some off-track training of managers who were formerly certified train operators, to re-familiarize them with the operation of the trains. This has been going on in a Mare Island warehouse using two trains that were taken out of service. This will allow BART to offer rush-hour service with a limited number of trains probably going between downtown Oakland or West Oakland and downtown San Francisco. The exact details of this plan are not yet in place, and one can imagine the unions will fight the legality of this.
So, stay tuned, everyone. The next couple of weeks promises to become a new volleying match of rhetoric and outrage between the unions and BART in the media. We can hardly wait.
If you need a refresher on the contract terms on the table, you can see them here if you scroll down.