OAKLAND -- The first full weekday of BART service since last week's crippling strike resumed Monday, as BART and its unions plan to return to the bargaining table this week to avoid another strike next month -- a possibility looming in the minds of some riders Monday.
"Hopefully they won't go out on strike again," said rider Kenny Noia, 39, of Union City, who drove to his banking job in Oakland during the strike. "I have a bad feeling they'll wait until the last minute."
BART trains resumed service Friday at 3 p.m., ending a 4¿ ½-day strike that clogged freeways, tripled ridership on ferries across the bay and drew the attention of Gov. Jerry Brown and state mediators. Ridership on the San Francisco Bay Ferry returned to normal Monday after soaring as high as 19,600 riders on one day last week, said ferry spokesman Ernest Sanchez.
"We are planning for a regular Monday," BART spokesman Jim Allison said Monday morning. "We are happy to have those trains moving again and getting people to and from work."
In Oakland, a steady flow of BART morning commuters -- a familiar sight of riders glued to smartphones, clutching newspapers or briefcases and sipping coffee -- trickled onto streets from the downtown's underground stations, a relief for some small business owners. At De Lauer's Super News Stand on Broadway between 13th and 14th street, near the 12th Street/City Center station, a popular hangout for BART commuters, there was life for the first time in a week, said owner Fasil Lemma. During the strike, sales were down between 50 and 60 percent, the owner said.
"Business was dead," Lemma said flatly.
Chris Morgan rode BART from Lafayette to work at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland after working from home last week.
"It's good that it's back, that's the statement from everyone," said Morgan, 34. "It was an eye-opener about how much power the unions have over BART."
Gov. Brown's mediators, who urged BART staffers to return to work under their expired contract, are set to meet separately with BART and its blue-collar unions, Service Employees International Union and Amalgamated Transit Union, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Bargaining talks are set to resume this Friday. If the labor dispute between BART and its blue-collar workers is not resolved by Aug. 4, the workers could walk off the job again.
Meanwhile, the SEIU planned to hold a rally in Alameda Monday outside the home of BART General Manager Grace Crunican to ask her to return pay raises she has received.
The strike delayed the start of a five-month pilot project allowing bicycles on board trains during commute hours. Through Dec. 1, BART is allowing bicycles in all but the first three cars of a train during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
BART previously has allowed bikes on board on most train lines only during off-peak periods.