Although major freeways remain jammed as the third day of the BART strike continues, so far the work stoppage has not had the major impact on Pleasanton commuters that was feared.
Quick action by city officials in tandem with BART and other agencies to handle morning traffic in the early hours of Monday when the strike started helped to ease the discomfort that commuters in other parts of the East Bay experienced.
Buses serving BART's alternative commute service, referred to as "bus bridges," have been at the East Dublin/Pleasanton station at 5 a.m. every day and are moving out regularly, often with a few empty seats. By mid-morning yesterday, buses there were sitting empty, waiting for passengers.
Yesterday, BART added more buses to serve the East Dublin/Pleasanton station with 36 charter buses now serving the stations here and stations in Walnut Creek and El Cerrito, double the numbers that were available Monday.
The Dublin/Pleasanton station buses, which are parking along Owens Drive, are operating from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and are returning 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Even though commuters and car-poolers can park free in both Dublin/Pleasanton station parking lots, there were plenty of empty spaces at both lots yesterday.
The Pleasanton Police Department has been on the scene since early yesterday to manage traffic flow and any impacts resulting from the temporary bus stops.
Officials said many commuters took the suggestion of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and are handling office work by telecommuting from home or simply staying at home this week.
Also, many companies are closed Friday as well as for Independence Day tomorrow. As a result, a large number of employees appeared to take the whole week off, using vacation time to spend the entire week at home.
That means, of course, that the full impact of the BART strike for Pleasanton and Dublin commuters who use the system might not come until next Monday, if the strike is continuing then.
And that's possible. Although a BART management team and union representatives met until 3 a.m. this morning, little progress appeared to be made. Talks are scheduled to resume later today with BART officials and representatives from Service Employees International Union Local 1221 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, the key unions that are on strike.
The strike is the agency's first since a 1997 action that lasted six days. The key issues in the current strike are pensions, health benefits, salaries and safety.
"A strike is always the last resort and we have done everything in our power to avoid it," SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Josie Mooney said. "Unfortunately, BART seems intent on forcing a strike," she added.
BART officials, however, have said they offered a pay raise amounting to more than 8% over four years in their latest contract proposal but have met with repeated resistance from union negotiators.
"We've sweetened the deal by $6 million, we doubled our wage proposal, and they came down half a percent - that's where we are right now," said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.
A Bay Area economic institute estimates that the BART strike is costing the region $73 million a day in lost labor productivity.
The figure is a conservative estimate, according to the business advocacy group, the Bay Area Council. Its figures are mostly based on estimates of lost hours and productivity from longer commute times due to traffic delays or taking alternate public transit.
"The Bay Area Council and our 250 members companies implore the BART unions to end this damaging strike and return to the bargaining table, and we urge both sides to reach a fair and reasonable agreement," Bay Area Council president and CEO Jim Wunderman said.
According to the council, the economic impact of the strike could in fact be much larger if considering the costs of workers not spending money by staying home or otherwise altering their routine, increased fuel prices because of clogged freeways, and that workers telecommuting may not maintain the same level of productivity.
For information on alternate routes, commuters are asked to check 511.org or call 511. The transit trip planner on the site will offer options excluding BART.