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Bay Area averts transit strike as BART, unions extend talks

A last-minute overnight agreement to extend labor negotiations averted a shutdown of Bay Area commuter rail service Friday morning.

Riders who use the Bay Area Rapid Transit system had been warned of a possibly shutdown on Friday as a cooling-off period requested by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by a judge, set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, approached without a deal.

In a statement issued Friday morning, BART spokesman Rick Rise said both sides had agreed to extend talks through Sunday night.

"The unions announced that if there is no agreement by midnight at Sunday, they will strike on Monday," he said.

A spokesman for the unions said both sides had been close to an agreement Wednesday night when management suddenly withdrew an offer. BART management denied it had reneged on a  proposal and pledged to try to reach an agreement.

BART normally carries 400,000 passengers a week. The transit system has arranged for buses to ferry 6,000 passengers to and from San Francisco and urged commuters to work from home or to carpool.

The back-and-forth Thursday had started to fray the patience of commuters, who have been kept on edge by the labor dispute.

“I think they’re acting like children, and they need to start growing up and start acting like adults,” Susan Mine, a rail commuter, told KPIX-TV.

BART workers went on strike for nearly five days in early July, triggering gridlock on freeways and bridges and long lines for buses and ferries.

The unions generally give notice before a strike, but none is required.

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Twitter: @mauradolan

maura.dolan@latimes.com

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