STRIKEWATCH: Alamedans pack buses, ferries

STRIKEWATCH: Alamedans pack buses, ferries

Michele Ellson

Commuters wait for a ride Friday morning at the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. Friday, October 18

Alamedans faced long ferry lines and packed buses on their morning commute Friday as BART workers went on strike.

Early-morning commuters and ferry riders told The Alamedan they had a smooth ride to work today, and casual carpool lines were smaller than expected.

"Took the 6:45 ferry. Ran like a charm. Arrived to a beautiful sunrise," commuter Lynn Davis wrote on The Alamedan's Facebook page.

But some commuters who took AC Transit to work said they faced packed buses and bad off-Island traffic.

"I'm on an ACTransit express bus rerouted thru downtown Oakland due to 580 traffic, overpacked NL line," another commuter, tweeting as @lilmikesf, wrote in.

BART workers called a strike Thursday afternoon when a marathon negotiation session broke down, union leaders said, over new work rules management wanted to put in place. Union leaders wanted to go into arbitration over the rules portion of the proposed deal, but management balked.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said federal mediators seeking to broker a deal between BART management and its unions were the ones who suggested coupling an economic package with work reforms.

"The mediators informally offered a model which included an economic package coupled with work rule reforms and BART agreed. The unions grabbed the salary offer, but balked at the work rule changes," Crunican's statement says.

The San Francisco Bay Ferry boosted service, while AC Transit – whose workers had also planned a strike this week, which was put on hold by Governor Jerry Brown – pledged to try to increase transbay service. Here in Alameda, city leaders relaxed parking rules around the Island’s two ferry terminals and ran a shuttle to transport people to and from the terminals.

Lines at the ferry terminals were long Friday morning and buses packed, but commuters appeared to a reporter to be able to get on one or the other. Only two people were waiting in a West End casual carpool spot this morning when a reporter drove by.

Many ferry riders took advantage of relaxed parking restrictions Friday; cars lined Main Street and the neighborhoods that back up to the Harbor Bay ferry terminal.

Traffic heading through the Posey Tube to Oakland – which one commuter described as “Friday light” – was slow but moving at around 8:30 a.m. Friday, traveling at about the same speed as traffic heading across the Island.

Getting onto the Bay Bridge was a different story, though. The commute site showed a travel time of 35 minutes between the I-880 29th Street entrance and downtown San Francisco at around 8:45 a.m. Friday; the site said that commute is typically 20 minutes.

When BART workers went on strike in July, the site showed travel times that were only a few minutes longer than a typical drive.

While some Alamedans headed to bus stops and the ferry terminals to get to work Friday, the prospect of a tough commute convinced others to just stay home.

"Took off of work to avoid the mess," Jaclyn Marks wrote. "I secretly wanted the day off, so good excuse."

Related: BART shuts down as workers strike


Submitted by Karen Bey (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

I took the 8:15 ferry -- parking lot and surrounding street was full. Line was long, and the ferry ride was smooth --- what a class act. They are very prepared for this bart strike!

Submitted by Carol Parker (not verified) on Fri, Oct 18, 2013

I just took a walk down to the Harbor Bay Ferry about a half hour or so ago. A ferry had just left and there were people waiting for the next one. There was a man in a construction type vest talking to riders who seemed to be in charge. I also saw a news helicopter in the vicinity. I didn't venture into the nearby neighborhoods, but heard from another person walking their dog that ferry riders were parked all over the residential streets. Aren't there some spaces in the business park that could be opened up for ferry riders - alternative lots with signs directing people there? It seems like many of those lots are not full. Other people I met along my way who were out jogging or walking dogs said they were taking the day off.