A BART workers' strike ended Friday afternoon as trains returned to service at 3 p.m., providing relief for commuters tired and taxed from a short holiday week without regional rail - but without assurance that a second strike won't happen 30 days from now.
BART's workers had been away from their posts and on picket lines since early Monday, after their labor contract expired and negotiations for a new one broke down. Talks resumed Tuesday but with little or no movement toward an agreement.
But shortly before midnight on July 4 - after two days and three nights of haggling overseen by a state-appointed mediator - BART management announced a deal between its unions that will see them return to work for 30 days.
During that time, there will be no strikes and BART will not unilaterally impose the terms of its "last, best and final offer" to workers - something the agency had made moves to do midweek, on the third day of the strike - and negotiations will resume, according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.
There are no contract meetings scheduled yet, Trost said Friday afternoon.
The first BART riders began arriving at Montgomery Street station in downtown San Francisco an hour before the first train was scheduled to arrive.
At 2:30 p.m., the familiar announcements about station elevators - two were out of service, including at 12th Street in Oakland - came on over the station loudspeaker.
Fifteen minutes later, the two station agents arrived and began preparing for passengers. One removed the yellow caution tape and a paper sign that read, "BART IS CLOSED DUE TO LABOR DISPUTE" from the turnstiles. She stuffed them in a waste bin as passengers marched past her and down onto the platform.
On the platform, there was relief that the trains were back in service, but little sympathy for the plight of BART workers, who are fighting with management over increases in pay and increases in contributions to their pensions.
Frank Zeccola, 32, and Keeana Smith, 23, law students at Golden Gate University, were happy that BART was back. It took Smith, of Antioch, 2 1/2 hours this week to commute to San Francisco on a BART shuttle, and Zeccola's commute from Alameda stretched to 45 minutes.
"They make more money than we will, coming out of school as lawyers," Zeccola said.
Asked if BART workers won the public relations battle with a public that is clearly reliant on BART - the system has 400,000 daily boardings - Smith was succinct: "I think they lost."