San Francisco Subway Workers Go On Strike 400K forced to commute some other way By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jul 1, 2013 1:20 PM CDT 17 comments Comments In this Tuesday, June 25, 2013 file photo, Jeanette Sanchez holds a sign supporting Bay Area Rapid Transit workers as she waits for a train at the 24th Street Mission station in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Newser) – Hundreds of thousands of habitual subway riders had to find other ways to work today, after San Francisco's negotiation with BART subway employees broke down around 2am. The city wants the more than 5,000 subway workers to pay more toward their pensions and benefits in exchange for an 8% pay hike, the San Jose Mercury News explains—right now, they're paid an average of $83,000 annually, and don't have to contribute anything toward retirement. BART is the nation's fifth-largest rail system, serving some 400,000 people, the LA Times reports, but reports vary on how much of a disruption shutting it down has caused. The Mercury News says commuters are "scrambling" with severe backups plaguing various highways and massive lines for buses and ferries. But the San Francisco Chronicle says that while buses were indeed packed, the roads weren't that bad. "If I just awoke today and didn't know there was a BART strike, I wouldn't have thought anything was different," says one city official. BART workers, meanwhile, picketed outside stations, waving signs proclaiming that their strike was about safety issues.