(Reporting by Community Editor Tom Abate.)
As Bay Area residents begin the Fourth of July holiday, the BART strike is ending its third day.
Labor and management are talking but an end to the walkout is not yet in sight.
How much the walkout is costing commuters in aggravation is difficult to calculate. But the Bay Area Council Economic Institute has estimated that the walkout is costing the regional economy $73 million a day.
While negotiators continue working to resolve differences between the two sides, Patch answered some questions that may be on reader’s minds.
Could BART workers be replaced such as occurred in 1981 when Ronald Reagan fired striking members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization?
No, says Stanford Law Professor and labor expert William B. Gould IV.
The circumstances are different. Federal law prohibited the air traffic controllers from striking. By contrast unionized BART workers have a right to strike under state and federal law.
Can anything be done if bargaining fails?
Gov. Brown could set the wheels in motion to issue a 60-day injunction against the strike and order the workers back while bargaining continued.
Is BART more expensive than other transit systems? How do wages compare? And what about the fares we pay?
To answer such questions we must compare apples to apples. The Federal Transit Administration collects data from the largest transit agencies. The American Public Transport Association helped Patch compute transit costs using the industry’s basic unit of comparison, the passenger mile.
What is a passenger mile and how is it used?
Transit systems move passengers. If you know how much it costs each system to move one passenger one mile you have an apples-to-apples comparison. BART ranks third, behind New York City and Washington, D.C., in the total number of passenger miles delivered per year (the aggregate of how far all of its passengers travelled in one year). The map shows breakdowns by city. Click on the purple exclamation point for details.
How does BART compare in terms of labor costs?
BART is at the low end of the scale measured in terms of passenger miles. BART pays 28 cents in wages, fringes and benefits to move one passenger one mile. Los Angeles has the lowest labor costs at 23 cents per passenger mile. Note that this measure counts every worker on the payroll, management and union.
How about BART fares?
We’re toward the lower middle of the top 10 transit systems. BART passengers pay a 24 cent fare, on average, to move one mile. The lowest fares are in Atlanta, where ticket holders pay 13 cents to go 5,280 feet. Train riders in the nation’s capital pay the highest average fare per mile at 35 cents.
But BART feels so expensive. Why is that?
Maybe it's because our trips are longer. The average BART rider goes 13 miles before stepping off a train. That’s nearly twice as far as riders go in Miami-Dade, which ranks second in average trip length.