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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Poll: Commuters Who Don't Rely on BART Don't Support a Transit Strike

Posted By on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM

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There's just a week to go before the Bay Area could be impoverished and paralyzed by the second BART strike of the year.

There has been progress -- both sides are trading proposals as we speak -- and that's a good thing, because as our friends in big business show, the Bay Area's not behind a BART strike.

Just 24 percent of local denizens support BART workers walking off the job, according to a poll conducted by the Bay Area Council, with 63 percent saying that workers should accept management's offer now.

And these aren't the opinions of mostly BART riders. Of the 509 people who responded to the poll, only 19 percent actually rely on BART to get around.

The poll is the second conducted by the Bay Area Council -- and shows that what slim support for a BART strike there was has dipped since August from 30 percent to 24 percent.

Of course, one doesn't need to use BART to have their commute ruined by a BART strike, as the nearly five-day transit strike in July proved. Commute times grew during the July strike, and we've been told an October strike is bound to be even more disruptive since it would be on a non-holiday week with schools in session.

Some might think it odd that more people now (51 percent) as opposed to in July (48 percent) expected that the strike would not significantly impact them or their families. And 57 percent said they wouldn't change their commute -- strike or no strike. Bay Area: bullish and bull-headed?

And, finally, a look at who responded to the poll. By and large, they are white, college educated, and aren't in unions. Hardly surprising since that mirrors the Bay Area demographic. But with a transit system that has close to 400,000 average daily boardings, you'd think more passengers would have been polled.

However, only 8 percent of respondents use BART on a daily basis -- and 63 percent use it "rarely" (three times a month or less) or not at all.

The poll residents in San Mateo, Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco. It's true that East Bay residents rely more heavily on BART than people in San Francisco or on the Peninsula, but a "strike affects everybody," said Rufus Jeffries, a spokesman with the Bay Area Council.

"It's horrendously disruptive to the local economy," said Jeffries, noting that it's working class folks -- the demographic underrepresented in the poll -- who are worst-hit by BART shutting down.

It also bears mentioning that the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which until now was calling merely for a deal rather than one side or the other to cave, has now changed its tune. The city's business leaders want BART running, because that's what's good for business.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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