As the evening commute is in full swing, many Richmond drivers are anticipating gridlocked traffic. However, if this morning’s commute indicates anything, it’s that the freeways shouldn’t be too packed considering that BART workers remain on strike.
Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., the average travel time between Richmond Parkway and Albany on westbound I-80 was nearly twenty minutes shorter than during the first BART strike in July, according to data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
The travel time between the San Rafael Bridge and the Buchanan exit in Albany on I-580 was two and a half minutes shorter than during the first BART strike. However, westbound travelers on I-580 experienced slightly longer commute times today than during the last strike.
Still, some people taking AC Transit are having a hard time adjusting. At the El Cerrito del Norte BART station, three confused commuters wandered around this afternoon wondering why their bus wasn’t coming, until they noticed a sign from AC Transit fashioned to the pole reading, “During a BART strike, this stop will not be in service.”
“This is a huge inconvenience,” Karen Wilson of Richmond, said. “I’m so used to coming in here and catching the bus. Now I just see it passing by.”
Other people saw significant amounts of time added to their commute.
“Going to work wasn’t so bad because it was early in the morning, but coming back was a nightmare,” said Tanya White-Collins, 41, who takes BART from Oakland to Fairfield every weekday. “The bus was forty minutes late, and after that it was traveling at a snail’s pace,” she added. “Normally, by this time, I’m already at home sitting down. But, I still have to get from [Del Norte BART] to Oakland. It’s a total nightmare.”
White-Collins said she’s upset about how the strike has affected her commute, especially considering the high pay and benefits that BART employees receive. “The fact that they’re willing to bring the Bay Area to a screeching halt is outrageous, and they should really put some sort of provision to prevent them from striking because BART services are critical.”
Those opting for shuttle buses, supplied by BART, appeared to have a smoother commute. “It wasn’t too bad,” said Herbert Lucio, Richmond resident. “They did the best they could. The driver did good.”
BART charter bus driver Ernest Armstrong shuttled passengers between El Cerrito del Norte BART station and San Francisco all day. He said that passengers were generally pleased and helpful.
“We’ve got the lane,” Armstrong said, referring to the fact that the carpool lane was in effect all day, cutting down on the commute time for shuttles and busses.