Thursday, July 27, 2006

The 1-minute sprint

I've mentioned several times now that I actually connect to a company shuttle at the Civic Center BART station and if BART arrives ontime, I have about 5-minutes before the shuttle arrives. Usually, I have about 3-minutes, which is totally enough time for me to leisurely walk up the two flights of escalators, and across the street to the 8th/Market corner.

Today, I had less than 1 minute to get to the shuttle stop. BART was stop and go the entire way and I was mentally (not quite physically) prepared for an impending 50-second dash once the door opens.

As we approached Civic Center station, I positioned myself 2 inches from the door to get a head start. Once the door opened, I ran. I zipped through people like a motorcycle steering in between cars; shifting right, left and back to right. I ran up the first escalator and cut across slower walkers in front of me...every second counted at this point. My ticket was ready in hand as usual and I made sure I was first to the ticket gate. I sprinted to the 2nd escalator, and saw that there were too many people walking/standing on the escalator so I decided to ran up the stairs. Because I had flats on today, I was able to skip up 2 steps with each step, to make up precious time.

I was really running out of steam by the time I got up there and thought that the shuttle had probably left by now, and I might as well just slow down and look forward to another 15 minutes at Starbucks to pass time. But, there it was.....the white shuttle, with its left turn signal on, just about to leave the stop. I got an extra burst of energy, and ran with all that's left in me across the street. Right as the driver was about to step on the gas, I arrived at the door.

My hard work paid off....I made it. I was huffing and panting from this morning workout, but of course I had to keep my cool once I got in the shuttle. People were already annoyed at me that the driver had to re-open the door and stop the shuttle for me, I certainly didn't want them to snicker at my out of control breathing patterns. So, I tried my best to hold it in, pretending that I made it on the shuttle like any normal person, and took out my Treo, like I normally would.

Inside my head however, I was ecstatic that I beat the clock! I know...ridiculous, but if I had missed the shuttle, I would have had to wait miserably for 15 more minutes while becoming even more bitter about BART.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you get the cell phone number for the shuttle driver? Perhaps he'll wait a minute, or two for BART.

bartmusings said...

I've thought about doing that a lot (getting the driver's cell #), or become buddies with the driver. But the thing is, there are different drivers all the time. And, if all the employees in the shuttle have to wait for one person to get on, I can't even imagine the wrath. We live in an impatient world these days...

Bob said...

Maybe you should just get on one train earlier and have time to stop and get your coffee.

sfocommuter said...

I would like to know how BART define "On Time". I have not been in Japan, but I was told that their trains are almost always on time, so do German's. Why it is so difficult for us to keep our trains on time? Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

"On time" means a train leaves its origin within five minutes of the scheduled time, and arrives within five minutes of the scheduled time.

Often, the dispatch time is one minute later than the published (public) schedule.

At night, on weekends, and on the backside of a commute, it is easy to make up lost time. Conceivably, a train could leave 4 1/2 minutes late, lose 3 minutes by downtown, and make up those 3 minutes on the lightly-traveled reverse commute. And still be considered "on-time".

Police holds and mechanical breakdowns don't count, so the tally is a bit fuzzy.

The critical piece is the transbay tube, so one really late train can delay a few others, but, they'll be about two minutes apart.

bartmusings said...

a couple reasons why i haven't just taken an earlier train. first, i'm lazy, i need every minute of sleep. second, i don't think it's too much to ask of BART to arrive no more than 4 minutes late, so i can catch my shuttle at the station. lastly, BART's 5-10-5 increments don't always match up with the shuttle's 15-30-15 increments.

well, actually, for very important meetings, i do take an earlier train to make up time for any BART delays.

Anonymous said...

If my guess is correct as to where your shuttle takes you, you can walk there in the same 15 minutes that you would spend waiting for the next shuttle. You can miss the shuttle by up to 3 minutes and still arrive at the front door within a minute of when the next shuttle pulls up.

Walking is good for you. And the smelly disgusting stuff around Civic Center Station dissipates within a block or so, which is much better than standing in it for a quarter of an hour.

Not that there's anything wrong with wanting the BART trains to be more precisely on time. Just saying there are alternatives when you do miss your connection.