BART strike pinches Bay Area holiday travel

Legions of harried commuters who usually ride BART to work will get a holiday break from what has turned into a torturous week of commuting.

But people who were planning to take BART trains to Fourth of July events will have to find other ways to get to the festivities.

After marathon negotiation sessions that included talking into the wee hours late Tuesday and early Wednesday — and then again Wednesday night — BART negotiators and labor officials still had not reached a deal.

Admonished by mediators not to say much to the media, few details about the talks were released. This much, though, was certain: BART trains will not run on Thursday.

BART did release a brief statement late Wednesday that they had “received no indication” striking union workers would return  to work Thursday. BART again advised commuters to find alternative means of transportation.

With BART officials saying it would take 18 hours to get the trains running again once a deal is reached, it seems unlikely trains would be rolling again in time for the start of the Friday morning commute.

As the two sides continued to talk, commuters heading home for the holiday Wednesday afternoon stood in long lines to get on buses and ferries, while drivers sat in massive traffic jams trying to get out of San Francisco during a “getaway” day.

Meanwhile, officials on both sides of the bay expressed concerns over the masses of people trying to get to holiday events without BART service.

In San Francisco, up to 200,000 people are expected to descend on the city for the annual fireworks show and the opening ceremony for America’s Cup.

San Francisco Muni has issued a transit and traffic advisory warning that “traffic congestion and disruption of transit service” is expected.

Muni planned to reroute some bus service, and a number of streets would be closed to automobile traffic. Muni officials also wanted to remind those who drove into the city that even though it was a holiday, parking meter rules would still be enforced.

For those who needed to get from the East Bay to San Francisco on July 4, BART will provide what it described as “very limited” bus service from five stations, but it won’t be able to take more than 150 people across the Bay.

BART says it will send three buses to West Oakland, El Cerrito del Norte, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont stations at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Each bus can carry 50 people, and once it’s filled, it will leave for San Francisco.  The service will last until all three buses are filled, or until 8 a.m., whichever comes first.

Three buses will be used again in the afternoon to take people from San Francisco back to the East Bay.

AC Transit — which is still in negotiations with is drivers — says it will beef up its service by running buses in 15-minute intervals for most of the day on its transbay lines.

Also on Thursday, the nearly 35,000 people expected for an afternoon baseball game between the A’s and the Chicago Cubs will have limited options — besides driving — to get to the ballpark.