Blogger/Commenter Concord Commuter made a VERY INTERESTING point in the comment section. The comment says...
I have often wondered what criteria people choose when selecting which row of seats to share, as often I will see people zero in on a particular spot. I don't really have a criteria, I just go to the first available seat that is not immediately near the doors.
This comment got me thinking a little bit about just how people choose seats. To me, it's an intricate thought process that must take place within 3 seconds or less!! Call me weird but choosing the best BART seat takes experience: one gets better at picking the best seat faster after years of riding BART!
This is how I do it. I take my first glance at the "seat situation" as the train arrives. I look closely through the window as the train slows down at the station to see if there are any empty spaces between heads. Then I keep track of which side of my particular cart has more empty spaces and position my body to walk into the train that way. As I approach the emtpy seats, I try to quickly evaluate the "quality" of the passenger I would be seated next to. By quality, I purely mean cleanliness, size and general physical and mental health. The next evaluation is aisle seat availability- I prefer these seats over window seats- I need my space, what can I say? Then, if there is time and choice left, I pick the available aisle seat that have cleaner upholstery.
I do all that within 3 seconds of walking into the train. It's become second nature. This usually only happens if I leave work around 4pm and get on the train from Civic Center (where the train isn't as packed yet.) In other occasions, I am lucky if I get a seat. But sometimes, standing is much better than sitting next to someone with undesirable qualities.