BART strike sends Bay Area fireworks-goers scrambling for buses

July 4, 2013 at 10:49 PM

OAKLAND, Calif., July 4 (UPI) -- A four-day strike by Bay Area Rapid Transit workers forced San Francisco area residents to take overcrowded buses to fireworks shows Thursday.

"I feel like the whole Fourth of July is going to be spent on a bus," David Bober, a 32-year-old El Cerrito resident, told the Contra Costa Times while waiting for a bus in downtown Oakland.

"I'm not sure how long the public is going to take this," he said, explaining he and his friends were planning on taking two buses to a barbeque in San Francisco, a third bus to get to the fireworks and a fourth bus to get back home.

Talks broke off Tuesday with no deal between BART and the union representing its workers, leaving the nation's fifth-largest public transportation system shuttered and forcing commuters to find other ways to get around.

One labor leader told the newspaper Thursday the talks "were not going well."

The union had asked for a 5 percent raise in each of the first three years of a four-year contract. BART management countered with a 2 percent raise for each year of the contract, which covers 2,400 workers who keep the trains running.

BART said union train operators and station agents average about $82,000 per year, including more than $10,000 in overtime pay. The workers pay a flat $92 monthly fee for health insurance.

The system includes 44 stations and 104 miles of lines. More than 40 percent of commuters traveling to San Francisco daily from the East Bay use the BART system, said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

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