Bay Area Bus Strike Fails to Snarl Commuter Traffic

Times Staff Writer

Expected traffic entanglements did not occur Monday as a strike idling buses and ferries of the Golden Gate Bridge District entered its third day.

Thousands of commuters, in a scene reminiscent of Los Angeles drivers during the 1984 Olympics, followed contingency plans. They left home early, formed car pools, and rode privately operated ferries. Some apparently stayed home.

Carney Campion, Golden Gate Bridge District general manager, said only about 1,000 more vehicles than usual made the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. "I have a feeling that some people stayed home to go fishing," he added.

Others took boats to work. David Pence, a spokesman for the Red and White Fleet, said the private ferry service added extra boats and carried 914 passengers, more than double the usual number, on its morning run from Tiburon to downtown San Francisco.

Eunice Valentine, executive director of Rides for Bay Area Commuters, said more than 1,000 people had called the nonprofit group over the weekend, seeking to set up car pools. Valentine said the organization usually receives between 100 and 150 calls a day.

The bridge district operates buses and ferries between San Francisco and counties to the north, and maintains the Golden Gate Bridge.

The strike began early Saturday, after Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1575 and the district failed to agree on wages and on the number of part-time drivers the district may hire. The union wants a wage increase of 8.5% over two years, but the district, facing a $6.7-million deficit, has offered 4%.

Both sides say the major issue at stake is the district's proposal to increase the number of part-time drivers from 10% to 15% of the work force. The district says the measure is necessary to cut costs and increase scheduling flexibility. The union opposes the proposal on the grounds that it may cut into the working hours of the full-time drivers.

Negotiations continued over the weekend, but broke off late Sunday night. No new talks have been scheduled.

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