Wednesday, March 29, 2006

90-Minute BART Halt!

For those of you who have just read my previous post, please disregard the last sentence where I stated that I, for the moment, am an appreciative BART rider.

I had a funny feeling that when I said that (or typed that I guess), something was going to happen to make me regret writing it. And goodness, was I right!!!!

The moment I walked into the Embarcadero station, I saw the electronic signs that usually say the time or flash the train that is arriving, scrolling an unfamiliar error message. The station was PACKED with lines twirling in all directions. The barely audible station agents made an update- there is a computer glitch and all service have stopped!

While everyone expressed a huge sigh of annoyance, we had no idea how bad this delay was about to get! It was 5:3opm, passengers were coming down from the escalators, elevators and staircases. People were pouring into the boarding level by the hundreds every minute, from all directions. Meanwhile, we got an update that they were still fixing the glitch, and we should expect a 20 minutes delay. The lines twirled until they could twirl no more. The station was like a refugee center, completely overcrowded!

We then got another update- this time, they said we are 30 mintues delayed and they don't know when the computer glitch can be fixed and we should take alternative transit. I have no alternate transit- carpool I guess, but I don't know where I would get dropped off at once I'm in the East Bay. I couldn't take the AC Transit to cross the bridge because I don't have a connection to my city. I considered taxi for a moment, but with the traffic hour wait time on the freeways, the taxi fare would probably be over $200. At this time, people who were lucky enough to have alternative transit options left the station, while others who didn't, sat down on the floor. I remained standing..there was NO way I would sit on the floor of a BART station.

45 minutes went by and suddenly we heard trains moving. One train pulled into the station and lucky for me, it was MY train. I knew I had to fight with the hundreds of people around me to get on the train. I squeezed myself into the corner of the train entry...tucked my arms inwards. Whew..I made I thought!

The train held at the station for 15 more minutes- it was so crowded that my body was touching the man behind me and the woman in front of me. 5 minutes into the train, we stopped and got an announcement that the computer glitch was not fully fixed and they are halting all service again!

We waited again for another 30-45 minutes inside the train. People were sweating, babies were crying, people were yelling at each other or yelling to their friends on the cellphone. I couldn't lift my arm high enough to get access to my purse to pull out my magazine. The woman in front of me had horrendous breath, but after 30 minutes of smelling it, it just became part of the air and I couldn't smell it anymore.

FINALLY...the train operator announced that the glitch is fixed. We moved to the next station only to stop ONE MORE TIME! Luckily, we stopped only for 2 minutes or so and resumed again.

It took me nearly 2 hours to get home today. Surprisingly, after yesterday's 2 hour drive into Downtown SF, I just laughed at this horrible commute experience.

One thing that I am proud of however....while many passengers around me caved into the 90 minute delay and sat down on the ground, whether at the station or on the train, I did not! I remained standing the entire time. I was not about to let the germs, bacteria and virus thrive on my body.

I'm just happy to be home.

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