Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pets on BART

I completely understand why BART does not allow pets onboard (assistance dogs aside). Not all pets are well behaved and not all owners are responsible. The last thing you want is to have dog poop add to the already plentiful stains on the floors and seats, or have someone's dog attack another passenger while in the train.

However, people still do bring small dogs on BART, sometimes not so small. I've seen it a few times. Little Yorkies or Chihuahuas mostly. On the most part the dogs are very well behaved aside from some occasional barking. I once even saw a little Golden Retriever puppy onboard....he was so scared and terrified of the loud sound of the train running through the tracks. I've seen people bring medium sized dogs in a crate covered by a towel.

Personally, I don't mind seeing people with their pets. Makes me happy. Keeps me entertained during my ride and distracts me from the other rude people on BART. I love animals. Dogs in particular because I'm the proud mom of the sweetest little pug in the world.

I could count so many positives to allowing dogs onboard but on the same note, I can think of a ton of negatives. Too many people just aren't the most responsible handlers of animals and it would just make BART an unpleasant experience for the rest of the passengers.

Would be nice though to take my little "king" to Embarcadero on a nice Saturday afternoon instead of battling weekend Bay Bridge traffic for an hour or more and be worn out and grouchy by the time we finally find parking!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BARTitis. Happens every summer.

BARTitis is what I call the syndrome I get every summer when traffic is lighter and I am just tired of riding on BART and putting up with the inconveniences of catching my company shuttle. BARTitis hits me hard especially when the weather is nice. The thought of being trapped inside BART, putting up with all the little big or insignificant things I complain about on this blog, just does not seem tolerable to me all of a sudden. I think of every excuse in the world to drive past the BART station and continue on the freeway.

Today, my excuse was I saw a train on the platform that was out of schedule which implies that there must be some delays going on. I decided to continue listening to my car radio, enjoy the privacy I have in my own car, breath the unscented nice clean air within my vehicle, and take a chance with traffic. Luckily, traffic was light across the Bay Bridge. I got to my office within 30 minutes. Which is about 25 minutes shorter than if I had taken BART and then the company shuttle without delays. (BART ride is actually only 30 minutes for me but the process of getting to the station, parking, and then waiting and catching my company shuttle adds to the extra time).

It was a nice change. I definitely can't do it everyday but it's nice to take a break from BART once in awhile especially during summer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What about adding small waste bins around the trains?

We all know that there's nothing to stop people from eating and drinking beverages on BART, but can't there be something to discourage them from littering? I see people who not so slyly place their empty Starbucks cup underneath their seat, or crumble their napkins and food wrappers and leave it on the seats. Maybe BART should add small waste bins every 4 seats or whatever feasible so some of these people might actually just toss the items into the trash instead of leaving it all over the trains.

Even if 35% of the litter bugs toss trash into the bins, that is already a big improvement and might help keep the trains cleaner in the middle of the day.

I know I have drawn comparisons often between BART and transit systems in Europe, but yet again, I have to mention that trains in Europe have that, and it does make it easier for people to toss trash into the bins instead of on the floor.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BART in they asked

OK, Chronicle has this poll (today) and article about BART's future...far future. Poll had people picking specific extensions they'd like to add. There are talks of adding another Transbay Tube. Sure, that's fine, but I'll probably be long retired by then, let's hope.

What I want is more frequent trains. I dont want to wait for 15 or 20 minutes for the next train to arrive. In Europe, I'm able to just hop onto a train within 3-5 minutes, at any time. Maybe those trains were serving a smaller geography but still, that's mass transit. That's how BART should be too. It's ridiculous that at 5:30pm, while everyone is rushing home from SF to the East Bay, people have to wait 18 minutes for the next Fremont train, for example. Sure, they can transfer, but transferring doesn't shorten the trip or the wait in the end.

My ideal BART experience is getting on and off a train without waiting more than 3-5 minutes...that means in the morning, when i get home from work, to and from ball games and airports. Can BART deliver that?

Question of the Weekend

I haven't written much this week due to health reasons. I'm going to cheat a little today and write about something that isn't directly related to BART. The only correlation this has to BART is that many fans take BART to ATT Park...and I expect this weekend to be quite crowded on the trains with many big events going on in the city like the Pride Parade and the high profile Giants-Yankees game.

I was listening to KNBR today and heard an interesting question posed to listeners.

Would you rather have a team that is somewhat competitive and interesting to watch every year, or a team that wins a WS once every ten years and sort of just suck in between?

Seeing how the Giants are right now, it's easy for people to say they prefer the latter because once you have that championship, you can wait out the miserable times. I leaned at first towards saying that, but decided that no way! All these painful games we're watching now, all the years we'll need to be under .500 until we fully rebuild, and all the miseries we're feeling when we lose games by 1 run......they'll all make it that much sweeter when the SF Giants do FINALLY win a WS. If that's 5 years, or 25 years, as fans, we'll just have to patiently watch them evolve, progress, digress, decompose, and flourish again.

Easier said than done, I know. I am just as impatient and bummed out as any other Giants fan out there.

Anyhow, hopefully we'll take two from the Yankees! That's asking for a lot, but please???

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When did overweight become handicapped?

This is not a debate about weight. It's a discussion about ongoing issues related to the ambiguity of the designated seats on BART for the handicapped.

An overweight, but not overly obese woman today straight out asked me to get out of the handicapped seat for her. I'm always very conscious of who is around me- if I see a child, a pregnant women, someone with a crutch or cane, or anyone who appears to be a senior citizen, I am the first to give up my seat, wherever I am on the train, for them!

This woman was probably at least 75 pounds overweight. She was large, but she was balancing and walking just fine. I saw her walk in and contemplated giving up the seat for her, but she was young and seemed to be OK standing. I didn't want to insult her weight by asking her to sit down either!

So should I add overweight people to my list of people to give up a seat to? What if they yell at me for implying that they are overweight? I've gotten snapped at before for mistakenly giving up the seat to someone who looked older than they really are! No win situation it seems.

In this case, she asked me if she can sit down. I just said, "sure", and let her sit. She wasn't rude or anything but it was implied in her tone that she should have that seat over me. I'm fine with it, no big deal. Just thought this was worth noting on BART Musings.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pre-party on BART?

A friend of mine told me he saw college-aged students taking BART to the airport and drinking BEER this morning!!

Alcohol on BART is nothing new but generally it's someone homeless crashing on the train, not college passengers using BART as a pre-party location to celebrate the start of their summer vacation!

Please don't just blame the rest of us for not calling the TO to report these activities- some of us do or are starting to. But BART also needs to take more responsibility themselves, to enforce these rules and fine people who blatantly violate them. Be more proactive!

Come on! Drinking beer on BART?? That is really quite an insult to BART police and's telling them, I can do whatever I want because you won't catch me or make me stop.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hot and Hotter

I'm not talking about a person here, but instead, I'm referring to BART trains in this recent heat. We're already baking while we're waiting on the platforms and we think we will have some relief as we get into the trains. But 50% of the time (I actually counted from my recent rides), the train feels HOTTER than the outside, while mixed with smells of food, body odor, perfumes, and cologne. The hotter it is, the more people find the need to mask their bodily scents with perfumes and colognes.

My rides recently have been miserably warm and stuffy. I understand that TOs cannot control individual train temperatures but why is the AC constantly too low when it is over 90 degrees outside?

I walked into different cars just in case it is my particular car that has a broken AC, but all the cars in the train are equally warm and uncomfortable!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A new level of filthiness

It's really quite a good (and much needed) thing that BART is appropriating funds to clean up the trains in addition to adding on-site medial staff to minimize train delays whenever there is a "medical emergency". Seriously, some passengers call anything a medical emergency and completely waste everyone else's time. Once, a woman tripped over and fell on the ground due to a sudden train halt. She seemed able-bodied and although she needed to catch her breath and regain her composure, there was NOTHING wrong with her. Some man frantically said, I'm going to call the train operator. She said, "No, I'm fine, thanks, really, I'll be OK." He went on to call the TO anyways and says "A woman has fell over and hurt herself. I repeat, a woman has fell over and hurt herself. Please send medical staff." There was a tremendous waste of 20 minutes! URGH! Some people just love drama. I just want to get to work or go home without these pointless interruptions. Please only call when there is really someone in need of medical attention.

Now, about the new level of filthiness. It's been warm, so I dress accordingly. Today I had a short-sleeved shirt on. I was leaning back on the seat with my arms completely touching it. I am not kidding but I started itching on my upper arms. It didn't help that I kept on touching it, but the patches of itchiness turned into hives. I then thought about all the germs and whatever else that are completely all over the seats, touching my bare skin. I even imagined the "CSI" staff using their flourescent sticks and imagined all the fluids, germs, food stains and dirt that would glow brightly in the dark! By the end of my ride, I had lovely patches of hives on my arms. I ran into the shower the minute I got home and applied a thick layer of Cortaid.

I'm sure it was partially psychological but am I that off? My arms DID start itching after 5 minutes of resting my skin on the seat.

Just glad that something will be done about the train conditions!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I am allergic to YOU!

I have allergies and this year, it's been rough. I take medication in the morning and that generally calms my nose and eyes down a bit before I get on the train.

I ran out of medication today, so from the moment I started driving, I could not stop sneezing and tearing. On the train today, of course I was sneezing. I got stares, but whatever, I always make a point to cover my nose with both hands, use a tissue, wipe my hands with Purell. I also try to minimize the volume of my sneezes by pinching my nose a little.

The point is..I know sneezing nonstop on BART can annoy people but I try my best to be considerate. However, one thing in addition to weeds and pollens that gets to me most is STRONG PERFUME or COLGNE.

The woman sitting next to me had very strong perfume on. It's not the fruity and light perfume that I can tolerate...she was wearing some strong and old-fashioned scented perfume and was apparently wearing a lot of it since the second she sat down, my nose shook!

I kept on sneezing. But I always faced the window and covered my nose. Everytime I sneezed, she would look at me. And no, she was not a nice sweet lady, she was one of those older woman who still think she's young and tries to cover age with tons of makeup, tight clothes, and to my detriment, perfume!

After the 8th sneeze, she turns to me and says, "Are you sick?" in an accusatory tone.

I thought about my response, and even contemplated apologizing for my nonstop sneezing. But because of her mean stares and her poor tone of voice, I decided to say loud enough for people around us to hear, "No, I'm allergic to your perfume." People around me laughed softly because I know they too are suffering from her horrific and overpowering scent.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oakland Coliseum BART Experience

I'm a Giants and 49ers fan, so I rarely make my way to the Coliseum for games. A couple times a year maybe. I don't dislike the A's, in fact, whenever they are not playing the Giants, I do root for them. Wednesday night, we went with friends to the Red Sox-A's game.

The game itself was exciting and ended favorably, but the BART rides were horrendous. Yes, it is very convenient, even more convenient than taking BART/Muni to AT&T Park. But, tonight, there was a long delay between each station, making a 25 minutes ride into 45 minutes. The BART ride home was even worse. No lines, no order, no courtesy whatsoever with people overflowing all around the platform. It didn't help that the train didn't come for 15 minutes. By the time it came, it was so crowded that you can smell alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and lots of bad breath all around. During the game, BART even had a little game between innings rewarding a passenger who took BART to the game. But shouldn't there have been more trains if thy want everyone to take BART?? Maybe it was just extra crowded and disorderly because the Red Sox were in town.

Now, the game itself. I never could understand why there are so many darn Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs fan in the Bay Area. Whenever those teams are in SF or Oak, at least 1/3 if not 1/2 of the stadium are filled with them. And boy, do they annoy the heck out of me! If they're true fans, fine, whatever, they can root for their team and live in the Bay Area. But I find most of them to be fake fans or bandwagon fans with no real attachment or deep knowledge of the team and players. They just like to put on the Red Sox, Yankees or Cubs hats and jerseys and walk around our ballparks like they actually care about how the teams are doing beyond this series. Hate bandwagon fans.

I was sitting in back of a young couple who were dressed in Red Sox attire. Who knows if they are true fans, maybe the guy is, but all the girl wanted to do was take pictures during the game with her boyfriend. First with her camera phone, then with his, and then with her camera. I swear they took at least 30 pictures of themselves (same exact pose) throughout the game, during critical points of the game too! It was annoying- not just the constant flash but the fact that I am in the background! Just watch the game, darn it!!! Goodness!!!

I still highly prefer the Giants and AT&T Park, even though the Giants are sadly sitting in last place with no solid plan to climb out of there. We've sunken below the Rockies...never thought that would happen.

The BART Soap Opera

Maybe someone into astrology can tell me why today was a day filled with soap operas on BART. Is it because certain stars align to cause people to be extra sensitive and emotional that they don't mind having quite a large audience listening to their phone conversations?

Normally, I avoid taking all calls on BART because I don't like talking knowing everyone is listening, even if they don't want to. But you know how sometimes, there are situations that trump everything else and you just no longer care who you're broadcasting your life story to? For me, the one time was when I heard my husband got in a car accident. I didn't care who was listening- I spoke as loudly as needed to make sure he can hear that I'm coming home.

Soap opera scene #1: A woman in the train was fighing with her boyfriend. It was a crowded train, so I think there were at least 15 people near her that could hear what she's saying.

She yells, "So you're telling me you lied to me last night?" "Were you with her last night?" "Was she there with your friends?" "Is she with you now?" "Oh no, don't tell me she is with you right now? Right now? As I'm talking to you?" "You are one sick bastard."

Obviously, I couldn't hear what he said, but I can only imagine this to be unpleasant for both involved. Yikes!

Soap opera scene #2: A man also in the train was fighing with his ex-wife about being able to see the kids. This was sort of sad. I don't know his situation but I hope his ex-wife becomes more understanding. I'm only going to write a small excerpt of his conversation because this is not anything to laugh about. It's just plain sad!

He pleads, "You can't keep the kids from me. I know they miss me. I can hear them asking for me back there. You are being unreasonable. No, this has nothing to do with paperwork."

How awful. Although we don't know her side of the story-- maybe she has reasons?

There was a 3rd soap opera scene that is not PG-13, so I'd rather not share it here. Basically a young man was bragging to his buddy how he scored last night.

We, the rest of the passengers, didn't purposely listen in but these conversations were so loud and engrossed that we had no choice but to listen. I know I have a choice about sharing them or not sharing them, but I wanted to make a point that people should just keep their personal conversations out of the BART trains although there are times where you just don't care anymore.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fighting for a parking space

Got in a parking space "fight" this morning. It was completely ridiculous! Picture this:

Orinda BART parking lot. Every row of parking is one-way only, and each row alternates so cars can go up the row, then turn to the next row to go down the row, to look for parking spaces.

I saw an empty space today in the 2nd row. I was going up the row like, in the direction that we're supposed to be going, while another car, going the opposite direction (against the flow of the parking spaces) decided to take that space.

I got to the space about half a second later. I signalled before he did. I slammed on the gas to try to beat him there. He saw me, he knew he was going the wrong way, but he still insisted on jamming his car towards the direction of the space. Of course, since he was not going the right way, he couldn't turn into the space, and required to back up and re-position.

I was obviously pissed off. He can't be going the wrong way (shorter way) to take a space! Besides, I signalled way in advance! I didn't want to let him win, so, as he backed up to re-position his car, I took the space! I only did that because he had to completely back up, turn directions, block the entire row, and keep me from going anywhere else! Hey, if he needed me to back track to take what should have been my space, I am not about to do that for him!

Well, I took the space, and he was pissed. He called me crazy, and I said, "no, you're crazy. you're going the wrong way." It turned out that he didn't have a reserved parking sticker anyways, so I just told him to park in the general lot unless he wants a ticket. Our argument ended cordially.

Monday, June 04, 2007

New BART commuters staying even after Connector reopened

It's been re-opened for a week now and I have not found BART to be any less crowded. If the connector shut-down has made temporary BART commuters into permanent ones, I guess that's a good. The fewer cars on the road, the better!

I'm looking forward to the summer months as people start to leave for vacations, and start taking days off on Fridays! It'll definitely lighten the situation in the parking lots and allow more open seats in the trains!

Speaking of vacations, mine is a month away. Can't wait. I need one badly!

I've been having problems with (which powers this site) all day! They've somehow identified me as a spam blogger and won't allow me to publish! Spam blogger? BART Musings posts are all based on daily, individual could it be a spam? Maybe someone flagged it as spam because I write things that they don't like?

Well, I'm back, and happy to write again!