Friday, October 18, 2013

Here we go again... @SFBART #BARTstrike (yeah, in case you weren't sure, I'm mad)

In July, the San Francisco Bay Area endured a five-day BART strike.  (Well, four and a half.  What some idiots didn't get is that, if I came in on the ferry, I had to leave by the ferry since I was parked there.  But, who's counting?)

In August, they were poised to do it again.  The Governor of California called for a 60-day cooling off period.  As of Thursday, October 10 (or maybe Friday, I don't know...it's all starting to run together now), the cooling off period ended and BART employees threatened to strike again.  Funny how fast 60 days pass you by...you look up, realize you haven't been doing your homework, and you try to cram two months worth of it into two days.  Great job.  The lead negotiator was paid, what, $400,000 for a four month contract?  How many vacations did he take?  How do I apply for that job?

People kept saying, oh they won't strike!  The governor won't let that happen!  (A)  He's a union guy, he believes in the process.  (B)  He blew his load.  That 60-day cooling off period was it.  BART and the unions needed to work their differences out, and that wasn't happening.  If he HAD come in and tried to stop it again, he'd be over-stepping his bounds, even though it does certainly affect the entire area (reportedly, $73 million per day in lost revenue each day BART is on strike). 

We all went to bed early Thursday night, expecting to get up Friday morning bright and early in case BART was on strike.  The alarm goes off at 4:30 AM...alas!  NO STRIKE!  (No deal either, though...they were still "negotiating.")  I can "sleep in" until 6!  (That's actually a lie, I was so irritated that the strike was a possibility again that I couldn't sleep so I was awake at midnight or 1 AM when when the KCBS text came through and so I switched my alarm then...but I still didn't sleep well and woke up the next morning pretty cranky.)  We play that game again Sunday night.  Then Monday night.  Tuesday.  Wednesday.  Every night.  Those jerks waiting until late in the night to tell people whether they had a ride to work the next day or not.  Thursday.  Finally.  On Thursday.  The official strike is announced.

Meanwhile, a reported $200,000 per day is being spent on bus cancellation fees, as BART keeps lining up buses to take a small percentage of passengers to work each day.  What does BART care, though?  That doesn't come out of their pocket.  That comes out of the transportation fund (I believe mostly bridge tolls?  I'm hoping it's not from taxes.  Still...it's a huge waste of money.  Over a million bucks spent in a week?)

Are you effing kidding me?  BART and the unions jerk us around for a week, making us think they are actually working things out, and they STRIKE?!  Thanks a lot, BART ("BART" used collectively throughout to curse the entity, the unions and the employees).  So 200,000 daily BART commuters** (plus the rest of the Bay Area since the roads, the ferries, buses and all other modes of transportation will be packed) are affected so that a little over 2,000 people can bitch and whine about their jobs?  Totally seems fair.  (**Often I see news sources say there are 400,000 daily BART commuters but I understand this is a round-trip total.  I read a statistic today that BART only carries 5% of the daily commute load...pretty mind blowing if you think about how small that number is but how great the damage when they strike.) 


Sitting sideways...this bus wasn't made for six foot tall girls
So, this morning, I got up at 4:30 AM and left my house by 5:30.  I drove to Walnut Creek BART station to catch a free shuttle (last strike, on the Friday after 4th of July holiday, all buses were gone from WC BART by 6 AM, so I wasn't taking that chance...this time around, there appeared to be more buses or more people telecommuting because I understand there were buses available until close to 8 AM).  I got on a tiny bus built for tiny people, not Viking Warriors.  My seat mate wasn't my biggest fan, but I didn't make him sit next to me.  The ride to San Francisco took about an hour.  So, it's 7 AM and I got to watch a beautiful sunrise in the City.  I don't technically start work until 9, although I know my office will be somewhat sympathetic to our plight.  I grabbed some breakfast and showed up to work an hour early.  I will get to leave early, but it's barely noon and I'm ready for a serious nap and am not looking forward to the clusterf@#% going home.  I understand we will get on a bus in San Francisco, then get off in West Oakland to wait for a bus to Walnut Creek.  My boss has taken pity on me and said we can check in at 2 or 3 PM so I can leave early.  

Oh and by the way, thank God I work in the City.  For those East Bay commuters just trying to get from Oakland to Walnut Creek/Concord, or anyone needing to get from San Francisco to the East Bay, there don't appear to be many options for you...BART just wants you to know: in every war there are casualties.  

After today, things get interesting.  I have a friend coming from out of state, who will, completely coincidentally, be staying at the hotel directly across the street from my office.  She has graciously offered me room to stay with her.  However...parking in San Francisco isn't cheap.  At that hotel, the parking is $52 to $79 per night.  I did find a lot down the street that offers overnight parking for $38.  She would like to come to Twirly Girls with me, which means I have to drive.  No free shuttle for us (see, since she didn't get on the bus in Walnut Creek in the morning, I can't sneak her on to the bus home that night).  That means I have to drive to work Monday, pay to park, drive to Twirly Girls in Pleasanton, drive back to the city before 10 PM (since the lot stops accepting new cars then; and class doesn't get out until 9 PM), pay to park again, spend the night in the hotel (convenient for not losing sleep but your routine does get messed up), go to work, then drive home the next day (or continue to pay for parking and stay with my friend for the week).  

So many people are saying WE the RIDERS should boycott BART.  Oh boy, would I love to do that.  I really, really would.  However, there is no other way for me to easily get to San Francisco from Walnut Creek (I live across the street from Pleasant Hill BART so I don't even have to pay to park, I just walk across the street) for $10 a day.  I pay my $5 each way and spend under 40 minutes on the train (provided there aren't any track or train issues, which do seem to happen a lot lately).  

I could go to Lafayette (but would have to drive and park) for casual carpool.  I am worried about casual carpool, though, since there is no incentive to bring me back at night since there are no carpool hours or bridge tolls heading to the East Bay.  

At least I got to see the pretty sunrise
I could set up a paid carpool service like Carma, but that would be more expensive and you're still riding with strangers.  Plus, you get dropped off at the bus depot, and that adds three blocks to my already-three-block walk.  Fine in the summer, shitty in the rain.  

I don't believe there is a bus that takes people from Contra Costa to Alameda very easily, so I could drive to Oakland and then take the ferry or AC Transit Transbay bus.  Time consuming.  Requires me to drive and spend gas money.  Probably requires parking fees.  Just not a viable option for me either.

Oh yeah, I could drive...  Probably minimum $25 per day to park, if I find a "cheap" place (the oversize parking fee at the garage near my office charges $50 for over-sized vehicles, and I drive a Toyota Tundra).  Bridge toll.  Gas.  No thanks.

I could get a new job back in the East Bay.  It sure is looking more and more attractive.  

And who do we blame?  Crappy, overpaid negotiators?  Mediators?  BART management?  BART employees?  Greedy unions?  I BLAME THEM ALL!  I am SO effing tired of seeing the union playing the victim in the media.  And even more effing tired of BART's daily e-mails, acting like they're doing EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to avoid a strike and the terrible unions are just taking advantage of them.

There are so many rumors swirling about what the actual hold-up was.  Quite a few people on Twitter mentioned BART tried to add a no-strike clause to the contract at the last minute.  The unions weren't going for that.  Duh.  I hope that someone is backing legislation to make major transit strikes illegal in the future!  I would not be sad if BART fired all of the workers, and we waited the four months to train new ones.  It would certainly be inconvenient, but we would all adapt.  Also, since we are ordering new trains in a few years, maybe it's time to go automated and at least the train operators will be out of work. 

So what will I do?  

I will wait like a stupid bitch for BART to come back online, and then curse those greedy ass employees under my breath as I climb onto my BART train to go to work every day.  Because, even if I'm furious, that is the best option for me. 

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