BART and its unions spent Wednesday negotiating on the key issues of pay and benefits, but once again failed to reach a deal as riders expressed concerns that plans to accommodate commuters in the event of a second strike might not be enough.
Earlier Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to increase alternative transportation funding to $21 million dollars. MTC Board Member Tom Bates thinks the Bay Area will need it.
"It looks really serious. I mean, I don't see any great light at the end of the tunnel," said Bates.
BART rider Janice Weingrod told KTVU she sees the impasse as part of a greater problem.
"The system is broken from the very top up, the federal government and it's no different when you go down here. People are not talking to each other; they're not working together," explained Weingrod.
Though not etched in stone, it looks like BART will provide 200 charter buses. In doing so, BART is risking $900,000 in deposits if there's no strike.
BART may run very limited Transbay service. Each train is capable of carrying a thousand passengers. But at the moment, BART has only 12 certified operators in management to drive them.
When fully ramped up, those 200 free-to-the-rider buses will cost BART upwards of $300,000 a day. That would allow BART to run the free lifeline bus service for 3 weeks before more money would have to be allocated.
Other transit agencies will beef up their alternative transportation. Most notably AC Transit, Muni and the ferries will add service.
The 680, 880 and 80 freeways will have all-day HOV lanes, while the 580 may allow trucks. Highway 24 will also have temporary HOV lanes near the Caldecott tunnels.
Even with all this, officials are expecting a mess compared to 5-day holiday strike.
"People are back from vacation, school has started and we're in October," said the MTC's Randy Rentschler. "We expect a lot more traffic and a lot less ability for people to extend their holiday or take one."
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost did not sound optimistic.
"We are very far apart. $112 million. They're still asking for a three-year contract. We want a four-year contract. We're offering a 10 percent raise, they want a 17 percent raise," said Trost.
In the meantime, the 60-day cooling off period has just 15 days to produce a settlement or a strike is highly likely.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.