SF Bay Area faces crippling transit strike
Workers have gone on strike and walked off the job at BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), threatening to paralyze San Francisco area freeways, with 400,000 daily riders having to find alternative ways of getting to work, most of them over long distances. With no new freeways having been built in decades, there is little slack capacity, and traffic is expected to be horrendous.
BART workers already receive an average of $71,000 a year in base salary and another $11,000 in overtime. In addition, they receive generous health care benefits for a mere $92 a month. They were demanding a 23.2 percent raise over 4 years, but in their final compromise before going on strike lowered that by one half of one percent. BART is offering an 8 percent raise over 4 years, which is roughly aligned with the cost-of-living increase data reported by the US government.
The heaviest impact will be on the East Bay and San Francisco. The Peninsula and Silicon Valley are not served by BART, so will face less impact. But Caltrans (the state highway department) is going to enforce high occupancy vehicle lanes 24 hours a day, (normally, they only operate during commute hours), effectively reducing freeway capacity, aggravating traffic. Becuase an HOV ticket costs $241, a major revenue opportunity opens up for the state.
The great economic divide in America today is between government employees and those who work in the private sector. For government workers, raises forever, fat retirement checks and gold plated benefits are a basic expectation, while for the rest of us, pay and job security are uncertain, and retirement savings are necessary. And if we complain, well, they can make life difficult for us.