There are a few secret weapons that I have to help me get through my BART rides.
1) Purell - Whenever I smell something funny on my hands after touching the handle bars, I drench my palms with Purell! When I touch someone sweaty, I then take out the Purell wipes after I get off the train and wipe all affected areas.
2) US Weekly - It's my guilty pleasure. It will last me about 1 day worth of BART rides (so roundtrip) but I am completely tuned out from the distractions around the train and fully tuned into the gossip columns. I've tried reading WSJ, SF Chronicle (sports section actually works too, but I can only read it when my teams won the night before, so that's rare these days), or books, but my BART rides have gotten so intolerable that US Weekly seems to be the only thing that protects me against all the smells and sights around me.
3) Treo - When I'm truly desparate, I will turn on my work Treo and begin my work day early. But this tends to give me anxiety attacks! When something is wrong at work, there's only so much I can do on my Treo. And with BART being late more often than not, I get too anxious about getting into the office and one minute of delay seems like an eternity. I start looking at my watch 3 times a minute. Keep in mind that I have a shuttle that only runs every 15 minutes to connect to once I get into SF...so every second counts!
4) Text Messages - I just got into this (I know, I'm a late boomer) and it does help to pass time on BART. However, very few friends of mine actually text back fast enough to keep me entertained (special shoutouts to Maria K and Kate H who are kind enough to text me back during my bad BART rids). And with BART going in and out of tubes and tunnels, reception is too sketchy to keep a conversation going. So text is last resort.