Bay Area commuters awoke to good news Monday morning: BART trains were running, and there would be no BART strike for at least one week.
Gov. Jerry Brown intervened Sunday night, just two hours before the 11:59 p.m. strike deadline. He imposed a seven-day injunction against any work stoppage, while at the same time appointing a three-person panel to investigate the contentious contract talks between BART and its unionized workers.
The news was well-received in Alameda County.
"I'm pretty relieved," said Erick Villegas, 21, who was headed from Oakland's 19th Street station to the North Berkeley station shortly before 5 a.m. Monday morning. "I just got in from San Diego, so if BART wasn't running right now I'd be in a lot trouble. I hope they get it settled, get something long-term worked out. I hate to be not knowing."
"I feel good that they didn't (strike)," said Daon Danol, 19, who works at San Francisco Airport. "I would have had to find some other way to get to work. I hope they find a way to solve the problem."
Walter Wright, who works in Walnut Creek, said a BART strike would have been a hardship for people making a reverse commute.
"No one cares about people going the other way," Wright said. "They only care about people going to San Francisco. I feel like part of the forgotten community. I hope they'll settle it and there won't be a strike."
Some riders expressed frustration with BART workers.
"I think they get paid enough," said Gloria Sanders. "I'd work for BART for half the money they get. It's a shame they're going through this, it's greed."
BART rider, Derek Nagle, 24, wasn't happy that he had to wake himself up late Sunday night to monitor the state of the negotiations.
"I'm very irritated that I had to wait until late at night to figure it out," Nagle said.
There was evidence that some commuters did not set their alarms for midnight, but instead woke up Monday morning and proceeded with alternate transportation plans. Photos from Twitter users showed empty seats in BART cars that would normally be packed for the morning rush hour. San Francisco Bay Ferry announced it would proceed with plans to run "an enhanced schedule" Monday. KTVU reported that shuttle buses, intended as alternative transportation for displaced BART riders, were lined up at the Walnut Creek station.
In East Contra Costa County, the commute seemed to proceed as usual. At the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station, dozens of passengers at a time rushed to catch the train. Jignasa Borg of Pittsburg was among those jogging up the stairs. She scrapped plans to take the shuttle into Concord and a bus to San Francisco when she found out at 4 a.m. this morning that the BART strike had been averted.
"I'm glad the governor stepped in," she said, adding that she was able to get a little extra sleep upon finding out.
Antioch resident Beverly Garcia said "I was just so thrilled and happy." Garcia and three others had planned to carpool to work, but went ahead with their regular BART routine when finding out Sunday night trains would run on schedule.
At the Hillcrest Park and Ride, Devonaire Bryant of Antioch said he was "excited" that BART did not strike, because he did not have to "worry or have too much stress" in getting to Walnut Creek on a day where he had an interview for a job promotion.
In West Contra Costa County, BART trains were running on time, and ridership seemed on par with a normal morning commute. A BART employee in the entrance kiosk at the Richmond station said rider volume was unchanged, and said the morning was as smooth as any other. A BART Police cruiser sat on the concrete pad near the entrance, and an officer paced nearby. Taxi cabs sat idle in the parking lot, with the drivers standing outside.
"I was hoping all weekend that this strike wouldn't happen," said Frankie Costello, a Richmond resident who uses BART to get to various East Bay locations where she works as a street vendor. "When I woke up, I listened, and when I heard that sound the train makes I knew my day was going to be much easier."
Costello said when BART isn't running, she has to rely on AC Transit.
"The bus isn't too bad, I'm just glad that I have an option," Costello said. "Now if the train and the bus were both out, then we'd have a real problem."
Commuters who decided to drive into San Francisco faced a nightmarish surprise -- a brutal backup on the Bay Bridge caused when a big-rig fire closed two lanes on westbound I-80 just before 6 a.m. The lanes were expected to be closed for at least four hours.
BART management on Sunday evening asked Brown to order a 60-day cooling off period. The governor instead appointed Jacob Applesmith, a senior adviser to Brown and director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Micki Callahan, San Francisco Human Resources director, and Robert Balgenorth, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, to investigate the negotiations and issue a report by Sunday. At that point, Brown could make a decision whether or not to call for a 60-day cooling off period
In his letter to BART management and union officials, Brown urged them to continue negotiating. At a news conference Monday morning, Antonette Bryant, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said she was unsure when the sides would meet again.
"Because we're getting ready for this board of inquiry, I don't know," she said, adding that she believed the board's findings would "corroborate what we've been saying."
Sunday marked the second time in a month that Brown had intervened in BART talks. He ordered a 30-day cooling off period on July 5, ending a 4 1/2-day strike.
"It ended up being our only option to keep the trains running," said BART Board President Tom Radulovich of the request for action from the governor. "We had the potential of a strike in October versus the reality of a strike tomorrow and we just didn't want to see this shut down again."
Some union representatives were unhappy with Brown's action.
"We want a contract," said Pete Castelli, executive director of the local Service Employees International Union Local 1021. "How long does this have to go on?"
In a tweet, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee commended Brown:
"I applaud @JerryBrownGov for his decisive action so that Bay Area residents will not endure a debilitating #BARTstrike on Monday."
But on the website for SEIC Local 1021, BART's largest labor union, an updated strike clock counted down the seconds until next Sunday night.
Check back for updates to this story.
Staff writers Mike Rosenberg, Brittny Mejia, Paul Burgarino and Robert Rogers contributed to this story. Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/garyscribe.