Monday, July 28, 2014

BART's new 'stretching out' on street ban is GREAT! Let me tell you why!

BART police is now banning sleeping, stretching out at the Powell Station during the day and I think it's quite a smart move.  No, it's not because I can't stand the smell of homeless and their wastes, really, it's not that!  The reason I think the ban is needed is because of safety.  There are different types of safety violations when you have a homeless person sleeping at every corner, or sometimes, just in the middle of the street or walkway.

Safety violation #1: I've seen homeless people sleep at the top of stairs and escalators, causing people to trip at the top of the escalators because suddenly, 2 rows of people need to hop over a homeless man wrapped in a thick blanket.  He left 5 inches of clearance for everyone to somehow squeeze through.  And homeless at the top of the stairs is not much better although you do have more time to walk over them at your own pace, versus an escalator.

Safety violation #2: The human waste problem at any of the downtown stations is getting out of hand.  Flowing urine greets me daily, and there's now more feces than 6 months ago too.  The homeless sleeps in one spot and then turns to the nearest corner (sometimes not) to relief themselves.  It's unhealthy.

Safety violation #3: The weather has been too nice and the laying out issue has magnified because of it.  They are warm, happy, topless, and high.  There's also shopping carts everywhere along with plastic bags full of things.  It's like walking through an obstacle course.  You step on something, you get yelled at, viciously.

Safety violation #4: Well, this would just be the folks who are mentally ill and scream at you as you walk by them.  They lay out, they people watch, they comment on what you wear, what you look like, and sometimes even what they want to do to you.  It's verbal assault.  

I'm not against the homeless taking shelter at the stations.  I enjoy the energy and positivity of some homeless performers-- it's very refreshing and it's such a healthy attitude to have.  I take time to listen, drop a dollar, and say hi.  But the stretching out ban targets another type and I think it's a step in the right direction for our safety!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcomed back by the smell of urine at Montgomery

I've been on maternity leave for about 4 months and returned to work this week. One of the best things about being on leave is that I have not touched or smelled BART the entire time.  So far, BART has been fairly on time with no medical emergencies, train door issues, technical problems, etc, and even the trains have been kept fairly clean!  Well, that is until I stepped out of the train and onto the steps of the Montgomery station.

POOF!  The overpowering scent of urine welcomed me back to work! I read on SFGate that the city is cutting back on water use, therefore, decreasing street cleaning efforts in early mornings.  I am feeling (I mean, smelling) the impact of that policy but heck, we need to conserve water right??  Suddenly it seemed very very real-- I am back to the grind and back to holding my breath for 30 seconds until I get into my building!  Thank goodness I work just steps away from the station!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On the rise? Jumping onto the BART tracks

According to SF Weekly, there are about 100 attempted suicides related to BART tracks each year.  On Tuesday, March 11th, there was another one-- this time at Balboa Park station where someone jumped in and  was stuck under the train.  This caused massive delays systemwide, trapping many commuters on the platforms and preventing more from even entering the stations.  It took my husband more than 90 minutes to get home.  On top of this BART mess, there was also a big fire at Mission Bay/SOMA, causing traffic jams, MUNI delays, etc.  It was definitely one of the worst commuting days in the Bay Area and a great evening to stay late at work or go dine in a nice SF restaurant somewhere instead of heading home!

I don't have the numbers handy but it seems like so far this year, there have been more frequent suicide attempts.  This sounds awful but aren't there more effective ways to take your own life?  Or we people all motivated by House of Cards, watching how Frank Underwood got rid of his Zoe Barnes problem?

When I'm caught in a delay and I hear that it's a suicide attempt, I am a bit more understanding but know that I won't be getting home for a long time.  When I hear that it's due to a broken door (caused by selfish passengers who hold the door opens as they close automatically), I am not so understanding and I get pissed.  When I hear it's a medical emergency, which usually isn't a real emergency, but it causes at least a 20 minute delay because they have to treat the patient INSIDE the train, I am annoyed.
Whatever the cause of delay is...rain, train track problems, earlier back-up....BART generally is off schedule during prime commute hours.  Sometimes by a couple minutes and sometimes by 8+ minutes. We are more or less used to it and don't expect on time arrival consistently.  But if you want to know why BART riders are so miserable and grumpy and anti-social?  That's why.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Responses I get when I ask for a seat...while VERY pregnant

Pregnancy is certainly not an excuse for the long hiatus I've taken from updating this blog.  But nevertheless, I am 9 months pregnant now and ready to not be anymore.

I really didn't start showing until past 7 months and felt fine standing even in the most crowded conditions.  However, the last 4 weeks have been tougher and there really isn't a doubt that sitting is safer than bumping left and right on a brake-happy train.

I find it easier to ask on behalf of other people in need of a seat than for myself.  It's a little different for me, not sure why.  I try to avoid it if I feel physically strong for the day but there are times when I feel completely worn out and in need of resting my numb legs after a long day.

You'd be surprised the type of responses I get.  Here are a few examples for your amusement, and mind you, mostly from men:

1) You're pregnant? You don't look big enough to be?
2) Don't cover yourself with a jacket, how am I supposed to know you're pregnant?
3) Yeah, yeah, just take it, I'm getting off at the next stop anyways
4) Sigh...ugh....let me finish up an email

To be fair 90% of the time, there is someone who voluntarily offers his/her seat.  And they do it very willingly and politely.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Want a job at BART? Check this out!

If I can make decisions for BART, I would 1) terminate relationships with all unionized employees, 2) search for new candidates under a generous and fair compensation and benefits plan that won't cripple the system, 3) welcome back those employees who are willing to work under unrepresented conditions, 4) shorten training program by 50% (come on, the trains are semi-automated, and if you hire smarter people, it wouldn't take months to train new drivers!) while using the 20+ managers who right now know how to operate the trains.  Passengers will need to suck it up for a few weeks but most would be willing to do so to end this unionized nonsense, and 5) start BART operations anew with new staff.

Of course, this is just me sharing my would-be actions without understanding the legal ramifications.  However, through my dreaming this up, I found the BART job boards.  I wanted to see how much qualifications were required to apply to work as a station agent, train operator, maintenance crew, security, etc.  The answer is?  Not much!  Any of us can do it...truly.

Check it out!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The BART seat pecking order

With the BART strike appearing likely tonight, I feel like I need to lighten things up by addressing an awkward situation we encounter daily.  For some of us, we flat out prefer to stand on BART to avoid contact with the old cloth seats.  I usually stand, but on occasions especially at the end of the day, when one of the refurbished trains approach, I don't mind taking a rest on one of the plastic seats.

There is an unsaid rule that women should sit over men.  I don't really think that should be the case but I feel that a lot of men do feel pressured to allow female passengers to take an open seat even if it's right next to them.  Poor tired men who actually want to sit.  Just do's fine, chivalry is not necessary (or expected) on BART IMHO.

Based on what I've seen in more than 11 years of taking BART, this is the pecking order when it comes to seats:

1) Handicapped-- yep, no argument there, they should always have a seat, anywhere.  Or if they have a cast and crutches, they should sit.
2) Obese passengers - I don't mean overweight, I mean so large that they need two seats.  I think to ease their pain and embarrassment, please just get up for them quietly and let them sit down!
3) Elderly-- this is a tricky one. Some who look very old are insulted when you offer them one, and others who have barely 20 gray hairs boot you out of your seat on the "elderly" badge.  If they have a cane, they should sit, no matter where the seat.
4) People with babies or kids -- The kids should sit.  It's pretty intimidating to be standing in such a turbulent and crowded environment.  If parents are carrying babies, they should sit too.  It's dangerous to stand and balance with your baby!
5) Pregnant women -- If someone appears to be in their 3rd trimester, I always give them my seat.  But then, it's tricky too...sometimes, someone APPEARS pregnant but are not!  Or sometimes, someone barely in their 2nd trimester says, I'm pregnant, and forces out another passenger.  Pregnant women can stand, I've been there.  Unless you are about to pop, but if that's the case, you shouldn't even be on BART!
6) Overweight passengers-- These are just larger passengers, not obese.  I would let them sit because it's not comfortable for them to stand, and they are taking up probably too much standing room.
7) Any other females by proximity to open seat

Thoughts?  I've written about this in the past but I think my order has changed.  Obese passengers have moved up on my list.

Monday, September 23, 2013

When bad gets worse

BART has been delayed pretty much everyday the past week.  This morning, there was a 12 minute delay from 925 area code stations to SF.  We all know delays means crowded trains.  We usually all make that work by being uncomfortably close with other passengers but heck, keep your head down, mind your own business, and we all get to work within the hour.  It's fine.  We deal with it.

Today, it was also crowded but what made the ride unbearable were two people taking advantage of the extreme proximity to make out.  Yes, they are a couple, but with the lack of fresh air and space already in the train, they really did not need to show their affections so fervently and so publicly.  I was luckily 5 feet away from them but there was one man whose face was about two inches from their lip lock (actually tongue lock, I should say.)  The man had no room but to stand facing them.  It must have been incredibly uncomfortable for him to be part of that exchange.  So unsightly, I don't care who you are, don't make out on BART, especially when we are forced to see it.

But my commute gets worse.  And the second part I can't blame BART for at all.  I finally got to my building and got on to the elevator.  The elevator didn't move, it also wouldn't open again.  It pretty much just stayed still.  A buzz alarm went off in the elevator and the door still would not open.  The elevator just stayed still with the doors shut.  I thought someone from the outside would sure need an elevator and the door would open soon enough but as I heard other elevators open up and close, I started to panic a bit.  By then I had been in there for more than two minutes.  It was another minute before it finally opened up but I was dialing my office manager to seek help from security.

Monday morning commutes are always eventful.  Let's hope I don't get stuck in an elevator again this week.