San Francisco transit service to resume after strike

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BART officials said that they have not reached a new labor agreement with the unions that are representing its employees, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

But the two sides agreed on Friday to end their existing contract for 30 days to end the four-day work stoppage that snarled holiday commutes in the San Francisco area.

“I am happy to announce the BART system will be open and fully operational at 3 p.m. on Friday,” General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement.

Crunican thanked mediators from the state of California who helped facilitate the deal to resume transit service in San Francisco on Friday. However, she made clear that the fix was only temporarily.

“Unfortunately, the issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved,” Crunican said. “Despite lots of hard work, BART and its unions have failed to come to an agreement on contract issues that matter to all of us today and into the future. We still have a wide gap of disagreements to bridge over the next 30 days.”

Leaders for the unions said they were striking for better pay and safer working conditions for BART workers.

"We gave up over $100 million in concessions in our last contract negotiations, and we haven’t had a raise in five years, yet the cost of living in the Bay Area has spiked by over 18 percent," the SEIU's Local 121 wrote on the website keepBARTrunning.com

"Meanwhile ridership is at record high and the system is running at peak condition,” the website continued. “We are being asked to do more, with fewer workers and less pay. It's not fair and it hurts our ability to serve the riding public.” 

Neither the SEIU or the ATU has released a comment Friday morning on the temporary deal to resume BART service.

For the transit agency’s part, Crunican said the deal would “allow us to continue bargaining while running the trains.”

Transportation observers were watching the impact of the strike to see if the halt in BART service led to an increase in the use of new car sharing services.

The San Francisco BART system normally trails only New York City's subway, Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail, Chicago's "L" and Boston's "T" subways in daily ridership among U.S. public transportation agencies.