Bay Commute Easier On Strike’s 3rd Day Workers Learn The Road As Transit Employees Haggle Over Wages


Commuters stranded by a rail strike found the going a little easier Tuesday as they struggled for a second day to get to work without trains that provide 275,000 daily rides.

“Actually, today was fine,” said Tatiana Roodkowsky, an office assistant who normally rides a Bay Area Rapid Transit system train to work.

On Monday, she spent two hours getting from Oakland to San Francisco. Tuesday it took just 35 minutes. “The trick is figuring out the system, getting up early and knowing where to go,” she said.

Some 2,600 train operators, station agents and mechanics struck BART on Sunday in a dispute over wages and a two-tier pay scale. Both sides were scheduled to meet with Mayor Willie Brown Tuesday to continue the discussion he arranged on Monday.

Sewanda White, a medical receptionist from Richmond, said her commute Monday took three hours, but she spent only an hour Tuesday on the bus. That, said White, showed her that she doesn’t really need BART. She plans to continue taking the bus after the strike ends.

“It’s cheaper and it’s more convenient,” she said. “So BART did me a favor by going on strike.”

Traffic observers said the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was as crowded Tuesday as it was on Monday, but traffic seemed lighter in other areas.

Monday night, Felicia Clayborn watched as two packed buses passed by before one finally stopped. She spent three hours just getting to work Monday morning.

So Clayborn, who usually rides BART, left work an hour early to catch the ferry back across San Francisco Bay. She almost turned around when she saw the long lines.

“I’m losing money to deal with BART strikers and commuter traffic, which is ridiculous,” Clayborn said. “I’m not happy at all.”

Union workers reportedly want annual raises of 6.5 percent, 5.5 percent and 5 percent over the three years of a new contract - about twice the cost of the $28 million package they rejected from BART management. The unions also want to abolish a two-tier wage system, in which newer employees are paid less for the same job.

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