Bay Area transit officials are hoping for an easier evening commute after a rash of vehicle crashes clogged roadways on the first day since a BART labor deal ended a four-day strike.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system struggled to get enough employees back on the job in time to restore rail service early Tuesday. Trains had initially been scheduled to start running at 4 a.m., but even at 6 a.m., BART was warning commuters of up to 45-minute systemwide delays.
As of 11 a.m., the possible delays had been shortened to 20 minutes as more trains were brought online. BART officials said they hoped to have the whole system restored in time for the evening commute.
BART spokesman Jim Allison told KGO-TV in San Francisco that the lack of adequate staffing occurred because of the "short turnaround between the time the tentative agreement was reached and when we begin service."
"Things are improving as we move further into the morning," he said.
The labor deal between BART and its two biggest unions -- Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 -- was announced after 10 p.m. Monday, ending a four-day shutdown that started Friday.
Some workers apparently did not get the overnight email alerts, officials told local media.
"We don't have enough people for BART service just yet but we're working on it. Thank you for your patience," tweeted ATU 1555, the union representing BART train operators.
Commuters also seemed to not take any chances on the rail system, instead clogging Bay Area highways.
A 6:45 a.m. motorcycle accident on the Bay Bridge's westbound incline had traffic backed up for miles on several highways leading to the bridge, KGO-TV reported.
Traffic was also snarled on the San Mateo Bridge and on northbound Interstate 880.
"Now that we look back on the couple days of the BART strike on Friday or Monday, we really need to thank our lucky stars that as many folks as were on the road, they weren't colliding with each other," Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin told KGO.
Union members must still vote to ratify the tentative agreement, and the BART board must approve it. Until then, officials were not discussing terms of the deal publicly.
For some commuters, though, four days without rail service had been enough for permanent change.
Daniel Bradford told KCBS radio Tuesday that he heard the trains were running again, but he was sticking with the San Francisco Bay Ferry, which had increased capacity after rail service was shut down.
"Because of my commute experience yesterday using the ferry, I’ve decided to switch to the ferry," he said.
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