Region Braces for Another BART Strike

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SACRAMENTO–

It was smooth sailing on Interstate 80 east late Monday afternoon – no gnarly traffic to navigate courtesy of the Columbus Day holiday.

But soon those lanes could be more lethargic than usual, if a strike shifts Bay Area Rapid Transit into no transit at all.

“Well I’m sure it will be much worse than it is. I feel badly for the people who are commuting every day. I feel fortunate I’m not doing it every day,” said Davis’ Barbara Vaughn, as she headed to her daughter’s house in Santa Rosa.

She’s already planning alternate routes and times back home to the valley if a midnight strike becomes reality.

Jennifer Pauleus is not looking forward to seeing normal BART riders out in the lanes next to her. She enjoys the reverse commute, leaving the Bay in the morning for Sacramento and heading back there after work.

With a rail shutdown looming, she feels the headaches coming on.

“Getting out of Alameda will definitely be a challenge,” she said.

While Pauleus may have trouble getting out of the Bay, the roughly 1,900 Sacramentans who normally skip the road race on Amtrak will still be able to get to the Bay. They just may not be able not get around once they arrive.

After a 60-day cooling-off period and a weekend of intense talks, BART negotiators say they’ve made their last and final offer.

It includes a 12 % pay raise, a 4% employee pension contribution and a $52 monthly increase in healthcare costs for workers.

The two unions representing BART employees agree with the pension plan, but are pushing for an 18.4% pay increase over four years and want only a $20 health care hike.

When it comes to the stalemate, Daniel Behn can understand why it’s gone on for so long.

“We’re just all humans. We’re imperfect,” he said.

Hopeful commuters say they don’t need perfection, they need compassion and compromise.

Folks in the Bay who use the bus as backup or rely on it solely to get to work may soon be looking for a little commuter compassion as well. AC Transit workers are threatening a strike on Thursday.

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