Monday, December 29, 2008

BART track fire between Lafayette and Walnut Creek

Have you heard about the BART track fire this evening? If you were on one of the disrupted trains, let us know how you felt BART handled the situation? Were you well informed? How helpful were the bridge buses?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Thank you for yet another year of support and time you've given to BART Musings. I absolutely enjoy reading everyone's opinions and have learned quite a lot. I am still on maternity leave but will return to full time work first week of March. Meanwhile, I will continue to read, hear, and observe anything and everything related to BART and BART passengers and post the most interesting on this blog.

Thanks again for all your support! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BARTing with the Raider Nation

Let's get one thing straight first. My husband and I are longtime 49ers fans (great game, by the way!) but he was recently invited by a vendor attend the Raiders-Texans game in a luxury suite and appreciatively accepted the invitation. He figured the suite experience itself will make a Raiders game bearable. He decided to take BART to the Coliseum to avoid potential traffic on and off 880. He looked up the BART schedule for both ways and off he went to the Raiders game.

The first thing that went wrong was BART's next train signage. When he arrived at the platform, it said next train, 2 minutes, and 22 minutes. He waited 10 minutes and the next train was still 2 minutes away. Then, suddenly, the train that was supposed to arrive in 2 minutes disappeared! Without any announcements on when the next train will arrive, he and others waited and took him 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from Orinda to the Coliseum. Ridiculous.

Now, once he FINALLY got on the train, the BART ride itself was quite "interesting". Inside, there were many Raiders fans, of course. A few of them were actually drinking beer on the train! Where is the BART police? Apparently, there were 2 groups of fans drinking; one drinking Corona, the other drinking Bud. When they saw each other drinking and appearing intoxicated, they happily, and loudly toasted each other and screamed profanities related to the Raiders. How lovely.

Not that all Raiders fans are like this of course, but this experience only reinforces the stereotypes of what most associate with the Raider Nation.

Anyhow, my husband's BART experience to the Raiders game was quite negative-- while he did enjoy the suite experience, he left at half time to beat the BART crowd in the return trip.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yet another reason to take BART....

$5 tolls! My goodness, the frequency of increases is starting to get ridiculous. Yes, I know this is for retrofitting but what percentage is truly going into that? And what about the money previously put aside to complete this project? I'm sure there is an obvious answer for that as well but the bottom line is, at this rate, in this economy, we're not far from a $10 toll. The "just take it out of the people's pockets" mentality will never go away.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Drive or BART..what I ended up doing on Saturday night

If you had a chance to read my previous post, you'd know that I insisted on driving while my husband wanted to take BART into the city on Saturday night for a semi-formal company holiday party to avoid weekend traffic across the Bay Bridge.

Well, as adamant as I was, I conceded and took BART into the city in my dress, high heels, accessories and a heavy coat. I really had preferred the comfort and cleanliness of our own car but gave in to BART for two main reasons: 1) with a 7 week old precious little thing at home, both of us wanted to enjoy the open bar and did not want to be the designated driver, and 2) my husband swore that the Palace Hotel was less than 10 steps away from the BART exit.

I hadn't been on BART for some time since I've been on maternity leave so the ride was QUITE interesting. Sure, there were a few people dressed nicely to attend the opera, holiday concert, or company banquet, but there were PLENTY of interesting characters as well. I was also shocked just how crowded the train was-- it was more crowded than a weekday peak train! Or perhaps, we were just lucky enough to pick the train with the most passengers going to the airport with huge suitcases. I also witnessed plenty of passengers who reminded me just why I used to carry a bottle of Purell with me to work. One guy picked his nose and grabbed on to the safety bar, one women scratched her inflamed acne before holding on to the pole, while another sneezed into the hand that held on to the handle. I made every effort to balance on my high heels without touching anything but my husband. The air was stuffy and my eyes started itching too for some reason.

But as we arrived at Montgomery (or should I call it Dubai Tourism Central), I was pleased to find out that Palace Hotel was indeed about 8 steps away from the exit. For that, I was happy to have taken BART. "Let the party begin" I thought...I conceded for the right reasons.

The party was wonderful!! I had the opportunity to meet and chat with some very nice people who made the evening very fun and entertaining! He certainly works in a company with some good, decent people. My husband and I had a great time and safely took BART home. It was a lovely evening.

So, in the end...yes, I conceded but I was glad to have taken BART although I have to say, it was an unpleasant ride to the city being overly crowded and full of passengers who did not care much about personal hygienes....but hey, that's BART, and I'll be back on there full time soon enough. I guess the important thing is that we had a good time and we were safe. Thanks to all who chimed in.

Oh, and p.s. GO BRUINS!

Friday, December 12, 2008

When BART just isn't an least in my eyes

Now, tell me if you side with me or my husband! It's a funny situation really. Tomorrow night (Saturday) is my husband's company holiday party. I'd categorize it as a semi-formal affair. Being on maternity leave and spending most of my days with my precious newborn son, I've sort of been looking forward to dressing up and spending a nice evening out while my in-laws take care of the little one. I have my dress picked out and will be wearing a coat I've never worn before. Bottom line is...I'm looking forward to an adult evening and dressing up.

Now, my husband just said that we should take BART instead of driving because the Saturday evening traffic will be horrible. Yes, I know the traffic will be awful and we had already set expectations that the drive across the Bay Bridge will take a long long time. But to take BART to avoid traffic? I can't wear a light black dress on the train! My legs will be exposed and with a strong wind passing by, who knows what else?!? It's just not feasible. I'd much rather be sitting in traffic but in the comfort of our car! If I was dressed in pants or even a long dress with long boots, yes, BART is not a problem. BART to Giants games? Sure! But I just don't think BART is the ideal mode of transportation for a semi-formal affair! Not to mention the forecast indicates RAIN tomorrow evening..which of course will make traffic worse, but will make BART ride wet and slippery too! I'm not arriving with my hair and dress half-wet.

Am I wrong here? I'm pretty adamant that we're driving in traffic tomorrow night.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

BART Musings Special Feature-- Interview #2 -- A daily commuter

The 2nd interview features a frequent rider/daily commuter since 2005. The questions simply focus on how he views BART and what he likes/dislikes about it. I'd say his opinions of BART are actually fairly positive but he's just started taking BART since 2005, relatively recent. I'd like to compare his responses to someone who's been taking BART for close to 10 years...the differing opinions would be interesting to read. (Thank you to the interviewee for giving his time!)

BART Musings Special Feature-- Interview #2 -- A daily commuter

1) How often do you take BART? Which stations are your origin and destination?

I ride BART an average of 3-4 days per week round trip between Pleasant Hill and Civic Center station. To and from Civic Center, I transfer and ride the MUNI metro out to the Sunset district.

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most satisfied, how would you rate your BART commute experience? Why?

At this point, I would rate it a 7, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's been awhile since BART has served up any truly awful delays. If you would have asked me back in the Spring of '07 when they were having all of those computer problems and massive delays, I would not have been nearly so generous. Also, when you compare it to the awful lack of reliability and slowness that I experience on the MUNI portion of my commute, it makes BART seem pretty reliable.

3) How do you feel about BART's destinations? How well do the routes serve your needs?

The routes serve my needs reasonably well at this time, it goes most places I need to go and is usually a reasonable alternative to driving into downtown San Francisco or Oakland. One thing I have always thought would be intelligent for BART would be to offer service along the 680 corridor... basically linking Walnut Creek BART with Dublin/Pleasanton BART a stop along the way at Bishop Ranch.

4) How do you feel about BART ticket prices? Why?

I feel that prices are reasonable. It costs me $9.30 round trip from Pleasant Hill to Civic Center and back. Bridge toll alone would cost $4.00, and there is no way I could make it to the far side of the city and back on $5.30 worth of gasoline, even at today's low prices. Nevermind parking costs, wear and tear on the car, and time lost to traffic each way. BART seems a bargain by comparison.

5) How do you handle parking? Do you believe BART should charge for daily parking? How do you feel about BART increasing the parking fees?

I used to use reserved parking, which worked pretty well, and seemed a fair cost for convenience. Once I moved a mile and a half away from the BART station, I started riding a bicycle to and from the station, so parking is a piece of cake. I actually think riding the bike is faster than driving and circling the parking garage is.

I think that charging for reserved parking is a good idea, so long as there are people willing to pay, and there is ample parking still available for those who do not want to pay the premium. I think that a modest daily parking fee is fair, since it is a fee for use of the facility. I don't agree with raising fees much beyond a dollar or two because I think it would tend to discourage more people from taking the train.

6) Do you feel that BART's train interior serve the needs of passengers well? How can it be improved?

They need to finish removing those filthy carpets. It would be nice to see some more racks or open areas where airport-bound travelers could stow their luggage. Also, more grab handles for standing riders, and I really like the idea of adding a third set of doors in the middle to help people enter and exit the trains faster. If I'm making a wish-list, I'd also add a display in each car that tells you the name of the station you are at, and the name of the next station you are approaching.

7) What do you like most about BART? Why?

The thing I like most about the BART system is that it is fairly consistent and reliable (at least it has been lately). I have pretty good assurance that I will get to work on time and home around the same time each day. The thing I like most about riding BART is that it allows me to use otherwise-lost commute time for personal pursuits that I otherwise don't really have the time for. In the morning, I get to read the paper cover-to-cover, in the afternoon I can usually read a good 25-30 pages of a book. In a household full of kids and family obligations and the stress that accompanies that, it is nice to be able to have a solid block of time twice a day to decompress.

8) What do you like the least about BART? Why?

The thing I like the least about BART is the infrequency of service. Nothing is more galling than getting to the bottom of the escalator and seeing that the Bay Point train just left, and the next one won't be there for 10 or 15 minutes. They really ought to be able to provide more frequent service, particularly on the busiest line. This does not seem to be a problem on most other metro systems I've riden on.

9) Do you have commute alternatives? Why do you select BART?

My only real alternative would be to drive myself into the city. I choose BART because it is more attractive than driving. Driving would mean having to pay for gas, bridge toll, battle traffic all the way into and then through the city, then have to pay for daily parking once I arrived. Then, I would have the fun of fighting traffic all the way home. I find driving in traffic to be frustrating and stressful. Given that as my alternative, I'd prefer to have a comfortable train ride each way and deal with the occasional delay or bothersome fellow passenger.

10) How many years have you taken BART? Do you feel like it has improved or gotten worse in general? Why? Please consider all elements from customer service, ticket pricing, train schedule/routes, on-time ratio, train operator performance, station condition, to train interior...etc.

I have riden BART daily since 2005. I have riden it intermittently since the 1980's. I'd say that overall, BART has gotten quite a bit worse, but I don't really blame BART for that. I have far more unpleasant rides today than I recall having in the distant past. BART 20 years ago was essentially the same from an operational standpoint, but it was much less crowded, and there seemed to be far fewer rude, disgusting, or frightening fellow passengers. I can't really blame BART for that, I think that is more of a symptom of society in general.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Valid complaints from a regular BART commuter

I received this email from J.A.B., a regular BART commuter and completely relate to his reaction to such annoying and inexplicable behavior from fellow riders. Honestly, I think there are 3 types of riders: the first are people who just get it and always know to move efficiently and considerably, the second are people who are just plain clueless and are unaware they get in other's way, and the third are people who just don't give a **** what they do and what others think.

J.A.B. brings up some very valid points in his rant below! Tell me if you relate or not! I certainly do! Even though I've been on maternity leave for over 2 months now, reading these scenarios still brought out some sighs and chuckles!

I have to vent about a couple things I observe and experience way too frequently on BART that I consider serious breaches of the etiquette of the daily commute. (For the proper definition of ‘etiquette’ in the rush-hour commute environment please see me in person during 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. on most weekday mornings.) These breaches are annoying to me every time I see them happen or experience them, so I should label them offenses, because that is what they are. They have no redeeming social value whatsoever and on my best days they annoy me. I wonder if others have noticed and experience them too, and what your reactions and thoughts are.

The first is the inexplicable pausing near the top of the up escalator by the walking traffic line. If you haven’t experienced this just simply get in the line that walks up the escalator, the one on the left. If it’s not completely packed you will find yourself going up at a certain pace then, depending on the length of the line, you will halt. This could happen 3-4 times as you go up. When you get close enough to the top you will see the cause: people pausing significantly or stopping altogether as they near the top of the escalator. Why, people? Why? You’re walking up the escalator, which are pretty big steps, bigger than the actual stairs and those in your home or where you work. Then, just as the steps get smaller as the escalator reaches the top, you stop or slow way down. Why? You’ve already done the hard part, you walked up the steep high steps. Now you get to the top, where the steps get smaller and smaller until it’s flat and you slow way down or stop. Why? It is actually getting easier at that point but you all pause or stop like you have to jump that last 5 feet.

I note that some women are wearing what I consider difficult shoes and I understand why they need to tread cautiously. But I also notice that frequently those women don’t slow down as much as the real offenders. They get it. Probably because they’re 4-inch heels taught them how to negotiate that part. But the rest of you: Why? If someone who does this has an answer I’d love to hear it. If you’ve never thought about this, perhaps you should pay attention at that moment of your commute and ask yourself why you’re doing it. (I also note that this seems to be less of a problem on the down escalators. For some reason folks seem to be able to handle this particular problem a little easier going down.) And this happens every single day, without exception.

The second issue is what I call the “I want/am going to occupy the space where you’re standing,” regardless of whether the train is stopped or moving. When this happens while the train is moving it is especially egregious. Either way it is an offense. This one happens in different ways but a typical one is like this: I will be standing (because I ALWAYS have to stand, which I generally don’t mind, BTW). I will be standing in my spot, wherever that may be, and someone will come up and say, “Excuse me.” By their words you might think they want to go past. In some cases I know it is impossible for them to, either because I’m standing right next to the door or there are just too many people on the other side of me. Whichever, they’ll come up and say “Excuse me” indicating they wish to pass. But they don’t: instead, they want to occupy the place where I’m standing. Sometimes I know this as soon as it happens (see above); sometimes I don’t realize it until after it has occurred. This morning, e.g., I experienced the latter. I got on a car where all the seats were taken and there were a handful of people (4-5) standing in various spots. The middle of the car was unoccupied with standers so I went there, as did one other commuter. The other 10 or so standers were either gathered around the doors or spread out in different spots, none of them near where I was in the middle, except for the one guy, about 2 feet away. At the next stop about a dozen or so commuters got into the car. One came up behind me, said “Excuse me” and when I leaned over as far as I could to let her pass, she simply stopped where I was. Now, there was no reason for this kind of proximity, this doubling up of standers in the aisle, given the available space in the car. BTW, I have experienced that kind of crowded conditions but that is when there are about 50 people standing in the car, which was nowhere near the case this time. The only thing I could imagine was her motivation was to be next to one of those handles that are on the seats (not the poles or the overhead bar). Essentially what she wanted was to occupy the space where I was standing.

Another frequent example is I’ll be standing and the train is still moving but someone, overeager to exit the train, gets up from his/her seat and seeks to stand where I am standing. This one bugs me even more for a number of reasons, (1) it’s a safety hazard to make some move while the train is moving, (2) it assumes I cannot move out of the way when the train stops and people are exiting, and (3) it is basically you telling someone to “get out of my way,” which your mothers should have taught you is rude.

Now, half (maybe a little less) of the time I would be willing to relinquish my space. But I want people to be honest about it. I want them to say, “Excuse me, I want to stand where you’re standing. Would you accommodate me?” If you don’t realize you’re doing this, please be a little more mindful of your actions and others. If you want pole position at the door to be the first off, go there and stand there, like the rest of us do when we want pole position, or make the move when the train has stopped. But don’t ask someone to move so you can have his or her space just because you want it and without a good reason, especially when the train is still moving. That is rude, plain and simple. And rudeness in the commute is no good for anybody. Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

BART Musings Special Feature-- Interview #1-- David Vartanoff, Transit Enthusiast/Historian

As promised, I am doing a few interviews with those with a different perspective on transit who can offer their point of view on BART. The first Q&A was with David Vartanoff. David has been intrigued by trains since he was very young and long followed and studied trains from different locales. Below is my conversation with David. Special thanks to David for offering his time and opinion. I know I certainly learned something and I hope all the readers will too!

BART Musings Q&A with David Vartanoff

Q: You are a multi-decade transit enthusiast/historian. That is extremely interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about what that entails? Which transit systems have you traced, experienced, or researched.

A: I have loved trains, subways, streetcars from infancy. Railfan is the polite term. That said, I spent many hours during summers in Chicago riding, watching the L and mainline RRs there. After Granddad gave me a camera at age 11, I began documenting trains on film. Since then I rode the last day of streetcar service in DC, the last day of the 'North Shore Line' between Chicago and Milwaukee, sampled the Cleveland/Shaker Heights Transit Lines, the last 4 Baltimore streetcar lines and living in Philly as both "transit" and main line commuter. When I lived in NYC, I rode nearly every route end to end and both the last run of the Myrtle Ave El, and the first service on 6th Ave to 57th (since extended through new runnels to Queens). In the post BART new systems era I have sampled DC, Boston, LA, Baltimore's new lines, Portland, Sacto, and San Jose. Not having got off this continent, my knowledge of foreign systems is indirect.

Q: What do you think are BART's strengths? Have they changed throughout years?
BART's 'strengths' are decent time reliability and convenient train arrival signage. I should say both of aspects were unreliable in the beginning.

Q: Which transit systems would you rate as amongst the best in the US? In what ways can BART learn from them?

A: Chicago and New York, despite mistakes and need for more routes, both cover at least a great deal of the neighborhoods. Both systems have cleanliness issues but as a rider a dirty train @ 3 AM beats walking home. BART needs to offer high usage discount passes with better fare integration with bus systems.

Q: You were at BART's opening day, and the opening days for many of the new routes. Do you feel that BART has met passenger expectations? As you've read from the comment sections on, many passengers have complaints about BART. Complaints from no parking, to frequent delays, to unclean stations, to not enough safety handle bars on trains. Do you think most passenger complaints are legitimate? Are these complaints common in other transit systems?

A: Depends on which of the promises anyone believed. BART said in pre-revenue propaganda, seats for everyone trains every 90 seconds. The cars had NO hand-grabs for standees when delivered. Never did they achieve the 90 second headways. BART was sold to the voters as Buck Rogers space age public transit, and NOT a subway system. As such, the carpeting and comfortable seats were supposed to connote upscale commuter rail ala LA Metrolink. Ridership, however, is greatest in the very urban core BART tried to discourage. Note that urban riders pay a higher % of the net cost of their trips.

As to service quality, ALL systems tend to generate complaints. That said, BART's on-time stats are good; most times I ride, I am not delayed much. The cleanliness issues are really class issues. Suburbanite who come with high cleanliness expectations are unrealistic. Without frequent cleaning, which is not economically feasible, such expectations will never be met. Some years ago there was a website called The Weekly Breakdown for Chicago riders to vent. Their complaints were more serious--broken down trains, broken faregates etc. Similar complaints come from New Yorkers. Bay Area suburbanites' cleanliness expectations of BART will never be met.

Q: What are some of BART's weaknesses? In what ways would you like to see BART improve?

A: BART has an extremely poor routes, station design and locations. The cars are overly cushy instead of practical. There is NO 24/7 service, yet it has an overcharging fare system, and no express service.

Q: Now, let's focus on commuters. How do Bay Area commuters differ from others you've witnessed?

A: As I've mentioned, Bay Area commuters have unrealistic expectations of comfort. They also do what I consider "silly" lining up at platforms and exhibit "amateur commuter" behaviors like staying seated until the train has arrived at their station.

Q: Do you ride BART? What's your personal opinion of it, as a passenger?

A: Yes although as I do not have a regular same location job, my usage is random as to both time and route. While I believe I have a valid view of BART, ultimately this interview is my opinion, others will see things differently.

Q: How and where can we find some of your writings on transit systems if we want to read more of your work?
A: As a long term Rescue Muni member, Google will find many of my comments in the RM yahoo group.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Decreased BART Ridership

All these talks about giving up seats to this or that might soon enough become a non-issue as BART ridership continues to decline. During the spring and summer when gas prices were ridiculously high, a lot of folks turned to BART. Now that prices have dropped significantly, many of the new riders have gone back to driving. At the same time, with the weak and vulnerable economy, layoffs have taken even more riders off BART, leaving the trains with more room (according to KRON4)!

Are tough times ahead for BART? We definitely should lower or rid any expectations that improvements will be made to the trains and stations in the foreseeable future.

The Experiment Controversy

You all know by now that I purposely and silently watched for a few months whether passengers would give up their seats to a very pregnant me or any other pregnant women in need of a secure space to sit. The end result was that no one offered their seat. While this suggests that good manners no longer exist, another school of thought is "all you need is ask". I agree with both, and realize that yes, we very much live in a society where if you want something, you better go after it!

I adopt that school of thought in pretty much all aspects of life, from work, to keeping my place in line, to finding a good shopping deal, but maybe I'm old fashioned because I was taught to also give to those who need it more than you. There may be very few people, if any at all, who think like me; who would voluntarily and instantly vacate their seat (designated handicapped seat or not) for the elderly, disabled, a very young child who can hardly stand, or anyone who looks like they might need to sit down, including a pregnant woman.

Yes, I know we can ask for the seat but the point was to see if anyone is considerate enough to offer. Alas, the answer is clear.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A moment of BART appreciation

New motherhood has been wonderful although time to myself has gotten scarce. Thanks for everyone's continuing support and patience. I will still try to write whenever I can, and post the interviews as well (one day soon, I hope)!

Today, my husband, a daily car commuter, needed to take BART to SF for a meeting and then back to East Bay for work. The thought of taking BART to multiple locations and then back did not please him at all, in fact, he contemplated on driving this 3-destination trip until he saw how awful the traffic was. Well, his verdict? How easy BART was! Yes, as often as we all complain about BART's little quirks and imperfections, it is a great and fairly efficient system that has simplified our lives!! Nice to acknowledge that sometimes! If I had to drive across the Bay Bridge daily to get to work, I'd probably age much faster and would have lost quite a few hairs from frustration.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A quick question for train operators out there!

My sister flew in to visit me and the baby today and she told me that the train operator mumbled each station name upon arrival...she says it was inaudible and incomprehensible practically!! Luckily, she found a seat within viewing distance of a map so she counted and cross-referenced each station with the route map. She even said that 2 couples (also with luggage, coming from SFO) missed their stops because they couldn't hear the station announcements!!!!

I've written about this before, if you recall....when I ride transit systems in Europe and Asia, it's generally a loud, clear automated recording in native language and English (most of the time too, not always). But why not BART??

Also, do train operators feel that they should announce each stop loudly and clearly? Is it considered their responsibility to? It should be!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

More parking fees from BART coming-- fair?

In a crunch to balance their budget, BART has decided that one of the ways to generate extra $$ is to increase fees at 7 stations. Check out Rachel Gordon's article on SF Chronicle, if you haven't already.

It's a tough time for everyone right now, so I understand that something MUST be done. BART is also postponing refurbishment of trains, which makes very good sense at a time like this. However, isn't there something else they can do that does not involve parking fee increase? Or anything that will take more out of our shrinking wallets?

It's a boy!

Just a quick note that I delivered a week prior to due date and am now a mom of a healthy and precious baby boy!!! We are loving every second with him and enjoying new parenthood!

More to come on BARTMusings soon, including interviews with BART employee, passengers with varying needs, a train historian, and passengers with widespread international train commuting experience. These will be posted gradually during my maternity leave as well as some interesting BART related news, for example, the next post I'm about to make!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monday, 10/20, last day to register to vote!

All of you likely are already registered since it seems like our little community here on BARTMusings is pretty well-informed and involved but just in case you've been too busy to do so, or know a friend who has yet to do so, voter registration ends midnight Monday!

I've kept politics out of this blog and will continue to do so because that is not what BARTMusings is about. But I definitely encourage everyone to go vote! As for me, I'm a permanent absentee ballot voter, and have casted my vote already.

I'm now 4 days away from my due date...any day now! So please do excuse me if I suddenly stop blogging for awhile...although, I'm happy to say that I've got a couple interviews in progress :) Stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thoughts? Extending Pittsburg/Baypoint line to Antioch

BART officials held a public meeting Monday night and will hold another on Friday regarding a projected $500 million extension that would continue BART light rail service from the Pittsburg/Bay Point station to Antioch, a 10-mile extension.

I am all for it IF and ONLY IF they appropriately increase the number of trains from Pittsburg/Baypoint to SF to accommodate the expected exponential increase in ridership!! Also, build/use more trains with fewer seats and more handle bars! We will need it with all those new passengers onboard. Peak hour trains are already maximum capacity on most days-- some adjustments will definitely need to be made if this extension becomes reality!

BART newbies a good thing but also problematic

Got an email from a reader today who brings up a very good point. I've actually written about it a couple times and often think about it while riding BART. The previous wave of gas price surge, plus the trend to be green, have certainly increased BART ridership, as we all know and experienced firsthand! But how quickly do these new passengers learn to adopt some BART rules and etiquette? Based on my observations, NOT VERY QUICKLY!

They take up 2 seats with briefcase, purse and luggage, they don't know the proper way to line up, they block doors, they eat/drink (but so do BART vets), they don't prepare their ticket in advance of entry, they ride on the wrong side of the escalators...amongst many other little things. Not a huge deal most of the time but you can certainly ID who's new on BART and how's not.

The reader today had wanted to raise an important point...he/she asked for a DIRECT LINE to BART because:

i need to make a suggestion that they begin to more stringently enforce the "no bikes on escalators" rule. with increased ridership comes newbies and people who don't care. and the bart station agents are all over the place in terms of enforcing the rule.

All the BART employees out there who read this blog, can you help? We know about the contact us page on the website, but is there anything else we can do to get some rules enforced??

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A couple thoughts and 10 things I won't miss about commuting daily via BART

I am now on maternity leave and 3 weeks ahead of my due date. And while I won't be riding BART daily for awhile, I certainly will still be riding or experiencing it in some way as I will have family visiting who will likely use the system, I will also soon gear up for the BART employee/passenger interviews that I had been planning to conduct (thank you to those of you who volunteered!!), and when the time is right, I want to see what it will be like to ride BART with an infant. Wouldn't that be interesting? A whole new experience and something completely new to write about.

I thought a good way to kick off the maternity leave is to write a few top 10 lists in the next couple of weeks addressing the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly.

So 10 things I won't miss miss about BART commuting?

10) Fighting for parking spaces with another car
9) Dashing up the escalators to get to platform level only to see the train depart
8) On a particular warm day, sitting next to someone who is unlucky enough to suffer from bad body odors
7) Smelling someone's hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner, while they are chomping away
6) Being hit in the head (while seated) by a standing passenger's laptop bag while he adjusts his position and moves around his arms
5) Grabbing the last available seat only to find out that it is partially wet and you don't know why
4) Getting dirty looks and comments from airport BART riders when you nicely ask them to remove their suitcases and bags from the TWO other seats they are preoccupying
3) Train getting held up because someone pulls the door open to come in while it was closing (once the train was delayed for over 5 minutes because of this!)
2) Seeing someone spill coffee all over the floor or on other passengers when it could easily be least it didn't spill on me I guess although a couple times, it came close
and # 1 is......
1) Arriving late at Civic Center Station, dashing like mad up the escalators to try to catch the company shuttle only to get on street level and see the shuttle pass right by me!!!

That was fun! The next list will be a positive one!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Final Experiment Update

If you recall from a few months ago, I was doing a little "experiment", well, more like a social observation, where I, as a pregnant woman increasing in belly span by the week, would see if anyone gives up their seat for me.

Now at 37 weeks, I've reached my last day of work, and I am not at all surprised to report that the number of passengers offering me a seat is ZERO. I understand and have heard all the potential reasons why people do not...they don't want to assume someone is pregnant, they may not have seen you, or pregnant women are not "handicapped". True, very true, and if you read my previous entries about the "experiment", you'll know that I do not feel that I am entitled in any way and am proud to hold on tightly to the safety bars to maintain my balance at this late stage in the pregnancy.

Still, I can't help but wonder, has our society become so self-centered? All those excuses aside, many expectant BART passengers do look undoubtedly pregnant and some clearly look like they need to take a seat, and even during those moments, no one gives up a seat?? Or a frail older woman struggling to stand straight is right in front of this seated young man, and he turns around the other way and goes to sleep. How can one do that??

This is not about me, it goes way beyond that. Frankly, I'm disappointed that we've become such a selfish and uncaring society. Of course there are still considerate people out there who believe in helping others, but seems like that population in dwindling.

One thing I know for sure is that I will continue to give up my seat for anyone in need. Call me traditional, but I still believe in respecting elders and helping those more in need. And in many years from now, when my first born grows up, I will teach him the very same thing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Still in need of volunteer interviewees!!

A couple weeks ago, I made a post seeking any BART employees or passengers who don't mind being interviewed by me during my upcoming maternity leave to keep this site going and to provide everyone out there with differing perspectives on BART. We all can be educated on actual facts and diverging perceptions, yes, passengers AND employees both.

I only have received an email from one expressing his willingness (thank you again!) and perhaps have a possible 2nd through a personal acquaintance whose brother works for BART.

As I've indicated, you can certainly remain anonymous! The purpose is education, not to get anyone in trouble! Employees who want to shed some light on how BART truly works? Any passengers out there who've seen BART transform through the years?? Or any first timers willing to share their experience and evaluate BART's ease of use? Let me know!!

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BART SFO Route to the rescue again!

I can't say enough good things about the option to ride BART to SFO! I've said it many times here but here I go yet again! This past weekend was an extremely busy weekend with family and friends visiting but because they are able to easily take BART to the airport, it has made our life easier! Especially now, with the direct routes from Pittsburg/Baypoint to SFO, my family no longer worry about transfer points. I supply them with the ticket, and off they go! They love that we skip the Bay Bridge traffic, the 101 traffic, and the airport local traffic. They love the fact that BART brings them right into the airport quickly and easily.

It's a great option to have!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do BART Police Cars Need Sirens?

On a jammed freeway, I saw a BART police car, not equipped with sirens on top (the top was just plain and flat like a normal vehicle), honking nonstop with their hazard lights on, and trying to cut off other cars to get ahead. Weird sight. Do they really have another emergency to attend to? If there really is such an urgency, wouldn't the stations just call the local police to take care of the matter? Does BART police really need to get from one station to another in an urgent state? Because without sirens, by the time they get there in that traffic, I can't see them being of any help anymore.

It was just a weird sight. I'm not doubting their importance, but it is quite awkward seeing them honk nonstop with their hazard lights on in order to try to get around....if there's such a need, why not just install sirens? And what type of emergency would require BART police over ambulance or the local police force who can get there a lot more quickly?!?!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Interviewees Needed!

In my upcoming maternity leave, I plan to keep this blog active and kicking with new personal experiences, observations, news, and...feature interviews with BART employees and passengers.

Of course, I will need your help to make that happen. I know that train operators, station agents, BART administrative staff, BART management, and BART police have read this blog and often share their perspectives and opinions, sometimes critical, other times spiteful and mean, but most of the time, fair. The rest of us have many questions about BART and BART's future. If any of you are willing to be interviewed by me (I can do this anonymously too), please do email me at

From the passenger's perspective, I'd like to interview 1) a long-time BART commuter, 2) a recently converted new BART rider, and 3) a mother with children who must ride BART to get to their destinations. If there are any of you out there who don't mind sharing your perspective, please do email me at I am more than happy to keep your name confidential.

PLEASE give this invitation a moment of consideration! It will only help both sides more clearly understand their differing perspectives. Thank you!

Now, in case you're wondering, can she interview? :) Legitimate question! I have a grad degree in Communications, and I work with press daily in my job. Hope that'll calm your nerves a bit. Thanks in advance! :)

Friday, September 19, 2008

BART's policy on train temperature, does anyone know?

Can any of you share with the rest of us BART's official policy, if there is one, on train temperature control, or is it up to the train operator's personal discretion? Asking because too often when the train is over-packed, with body temperatures rising, on a scorching day in the 80s/90s, the AC is not on. But yet on a cooler but still sunny day in the high 60s, like much of this week, the AC would be blasting, and passengers are shivering.

Just would like to learn what's behind the decision making here. Please do share! Thanks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cellphone use by train operators

Heard a question posed on KGO News Radio this morning. Should cellphone by all train operators (manual, computer operated, computer assisted, any and all types) be banned?

With the recent speculations around one of the causes of the tragic LA commuter train/freight train crash fresh in mind, I definitely think YES, please BAN ALL cellphone use by train operators of all types. I don't mean banning phones just the use of them during train operation. I know BART train operators work with a computer assisted system (please correct me if I'm wrong here!) but I still would prefer that they do not use cellphones at all. On several occasions (and I've written about this), I've heard chatters that got picked up through the intercom systems and were being broadcasted onto the trains. That certainly does not make passengers feel safe, not to mention it gives off a very unprofessional image. Of course, I know only a small percentage of BART train operators do that, but hearing a train operator's conversation about their weekend plans and hearing cuss words is not something you forget easily!

What do you guys think? If text messaging really is one of the causes of the terrible LA train crash, it is absolutely ridiculous and should never have happened!!! So I vote for banning all cellphone use by train operators! It's the responsible thing to do.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Raising peak hour fares to spread out demand? I say NO!

Have you heard of BART's latest idea? Because of the sharp rise in BART ridership the past year, specifically during peak commute hours, BART is thinking of raising fares during high-demand hours in order to encourage some riders to change their train commute schedules, making the trains a bit less crowded.

I ride during those hours and if the raise the fares, I will still ride during those hours. I have responsibilities at work and cannot just stroll in at 10:30am or leave at 3pm!

BART says it'll make the system safer? Perhaps. It sure gets crowded but there are other ways to accommodate more passengers. For one, CHANGE the configuration of the trains...REMOVE the cushioned chairs layout and replace them with benches! That will increase train capacity by at least a bit.

The definition of "crowded train" is completely different than what a "crowded train" is in Europe and Asia. Not that I want us to follow the standards of Tokyo and Hong Kong subways where max capacity means every body that patrolmen can push into the trains (that is frightening) but there are other things BART can do to accommodate more passengers during peak hours. I vote for seat reconfiguration!

Meanwhile, rising gas prices, the trend and pressure to become "greener" have pushed more commuters onto BART. Isn't that a good thing?

Please do not punish those of us who already have to work hard to keep up with the dimming economy!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Those who need to be the first to get out of the train

I've written about this before but it's fresh on my mind again because I just don't understand why there are certain people who MUST be lined up right in front of the train doors way before the train stops and door opens.

Here's an example of I'm talking about: A woman who has been standing at the back of the train since MacArthur (leaning against the in-between glass doors to the next car), behind crowds of other standing passengers in a very packed train, begins pushing her way through all those people as soon as the train enters the Transbay Tube. I've seen her before, she's a BART commuter. So I know that SHE knows from her daily rides that more than 50% of the train exits at Embarcadero and she really does not need to push and shove everyone that early just to line herself up in front of the exit.

As you know, no one moves towards the doors until the T.O. announces "Now approaching....Embarcadero Station" while the train waits for the train in front to empty out, and we feel the brakes really set in. This woman can easily walk out leisurely with the rest of the passengers at that time. It'll probably take her 10 more seconds to exit. But instead, she insists on pushing and shoving people out of the way, "excuse me, excuse me, I am getting out at the next stop," while her two huge bags bumps into arms, legs, and faces. I've heard people tell her a few time, "So are the rest of us, lady! Just wait!"

Aside from her, I've seen others who do the same thing. They push through crowds way before exit time in order to line themselves up right in front of the door.

Not sure why people do that! Maybe they have a connection to catch? That's the only logical explanation I can think of.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Experiment Update - 2

Well, remember my little social observation on whether anyone would offer a seat to me as a pregnant woman? Again, I have no expectations and do not feel entitled to anything. I am now at 33.5 weeks and certainly much bigger than a month ago. I can still stand capably, but when standing, I certainly prefer leaning against a wall or door to help me balance and rest. I haven't fallen inside the train (did fall on escalators but that's my fault for being in a rush) so I guess my sense of balance is still manageable. However, all that aside, even while looking extremely pregnant, no one has yet to offer me a seat, not in the designated disabled seating area nor general seating area.

It's OK-- I'm fine, but this being part of my little "experiment", I just have to report the results so far. Doesn't matter that the seated passengers are young, middle-aged, or older, men or women, no one has asked me if I'd like to sit down, despite seeing my growing belly.

I am not judging-- I feel like I can still stand at the moment. When the time comes when I can't anymore, I will have no choice but ask one of them if I may sit instead. For now, I'm just observing....and seeing if and when I will actually meet that very FIRST volunteer.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Digital Device Dominance

This week, with many schools back in session and folks done with vacations, trains have definitely gotten fuller. With the fuller trains, I've also noticed a new trend. There are now more people using digital devices (laptops, ipods, treos, blackberries, iphones..etc.) to pass time on BART than reading paper-based books, newspaper and magazines.

The new dominance of digital devices on BART is consistent in every train car I've sat in. I'd even say it's now about a 60-40 split...60% using digital devices to preoccupy themselves during the ride. I've even personally contributed to this new trend. I used to bring in a magazine to read daily but now, with my new iPhone, I've got more than enough to read right in my palm. It's so easy!

Perhaps this will mean that we'll see less unwanted newspapers and magazine subscription postcards being left as trash all around the train!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I need to learn to slow down!

I've always been a fast mover, and that includes how I move within and around BART stations and trains. I always walk up and down the escalators, I always have my ticket in hand when I exit/enter, and I move at a very quick pace and do whatever possible to avoid wasting even a second since a second could mean missing the company transfer shuttle!

Yes, I know, I sound like nut case, but that's just how I've always been with BART. However, now being 32 weeks pregnant, I have not slowed down, until I learned a tough lesson today!

With time to spare today, I really should have calmly rode up the escalator on the right side to let my body rest, but of course, being the eager beaver that I am, I wanted to get up on the platform faster so I can get a good place in line to hopefully secure a seat on the train. So, I walked (or more like jogged) up the escalators quickly. Until...I totally fell hard! It was not a pretty sight. I didn't slip down the escalators but I was on my knees and took me awhile to get back standing with my big belly and all. My body shook...took me a little while to recover.

I learned my lesson. I need to slow down for the safety of my child! I really should not be moving so fast anymore because frankly, I am not the same person that I used to be, at least not physically. How scary!

On a separate and more positive note, I am glad football is back...both NFL and college. It's been depressing forcing myself to count the few positives to the dismal Giants' season, but now we at least have other teams to keep us preoccupied, although we still need to restrain our expectations with those teams too. I am a 49ers fan but as for my college team, I'll keep that under wraps since I may just upset some of you Cal/Stanford fans. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Making a living INSIDE BART trains

During a smooth ride this morning, I saw a kid, he's probably no more than 6 years old, selling a Costco-sized box of Snickers bars for $2 each, up and down the trains. I believe his mom, who appears to be no more than 25 years old, was standing at the end of each train, monitoring him, carrying another Costco-sized box of Snickers. It doesn't look like these chocolate bars are affiliated with any organizations or fundraising efforts. It purely looked like they were selling is.

Although he is quite a cute little thing as he walks up the aisle, saying "Anyone want to buy a Snickers bar? $2 only. Snickers? Snickers? ", there really is something wrong with this picture.

While he was within my view, 2 Snickers bars were sold. The box was half he must have made some sales in other train cars. I think he could have done better in the afternoon as passengers tend to be more in need of a sugar boost. But then, I guess food isn't allowed on BART to begin with...yet another reason he shouldn't be selling these candy bars on the train.

Shouldn't he be in school? How can his mother let him do that up and down the trains? Has someone alerted the train operator?

But then again, I had to think from their perspective. Maybe they are struggling to keep food on the table and need this money? I don't know what to think but I hope this is just a very temporary solution for that family.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Did I help them or embarrass them instead?

For a sleeping Monday morning, I was pretty darn observant. I generally read my Treo, my magazine, or stare blankly at the window, but today, for whatever reason, I saw two passengers wearing brand new tops to work: one woman had the size sticker on (a long strip of adhesive that says L L L L L) and a man who had a price tag from Nordstrom sticking out of his left sleeve!

I was surprised that I was so observant! Not one but TWO passengers?? Maybe it's because my husband just wore a brand new shirt to work and I had to do the tag check on him....but for whatever reason, I felt obligated to tell them.

So I politely told them both. They were very embarrassed and immediately removed the size adhesive and price tag. What I didn't MEAN to do was make everyone around us look at them and chuckle!

Hope I didn't embarrass them too much. I really only had good intentions in mind!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Experiment Update - 1

On August 4th, I mentioned a little experiment I am conducting on BART. It's really just for fun and I expect nothing profound out of it. I was really just curious how often do seated passengers offer up their seat to a visibly pregnant woman who may or may not be struggling with balance. I'm further along in my pregnancy now (30.5 weeks to be exact) and certainly visibly pregnant. I'm not huge but anyone would recognize that I am expecting. So far, no one has offered me a seat. It's OK, I'm holding on and balancing just fine on my own still. Not expecting anyone to offer me special treatment since in the years of people-watching on BART, I rarely witnessed seats being offered to pregnant women.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Were you affected by the cracked rail this morning??

Luckily, today was my San Jose day...I go to SJ once a week since most of my department is based there.

I heard the delays were pretty horrendous this morning, platforms were packed beyond standing room capacity, passengers were confused and frustrated, tourists demanding refunds, kids crying and screaming, and no one could easily figure out what was going on since the announcements over the PA were inaudible and BART personnel were not readily available to answer questions. With the heat, I can only imagine how bad things were.

Were you personally affected too? How bad was it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anyone else got the Olympics fever?

I've been watching the Olympics telecast nonstop-- even when the results are already known! I've always enjoyed watching swimming, but even events like beach volleyball, diving, and ping pong have been fun to watch. Every evening this week, I'm just glued to the TV, flipping between different Olympics programming channels. It's exciting! Whether it's Phelps, USA Basketball, or something as obscure as handball, I'm glad the Olympics are here. I'm actually more of a Winter Olympics fan but this 08 Olympics has been addictive to follow.

Now, why am I talking about this? Seems like lots of people have caught the Olympics fever. I hear people talking about it on BART platforms, trains, lines at supermarkets/drugstores, lines for coffee...etc. Olympics has actually brought some level of friendliness to the daily commute! I haven't personally initiated any conversations around Olympics w/ strangers but I've had strangers commenting to me about Michael Phelps and asking me if I saw....I, of course, watched all his events and responded accordingly!

So, do you have the Olympics fever too?

Monday, August 11, 2008

One more week of comfort and relaxation on BART before....

We have one more week of comfort and relaxation on BART before some local universities begin. After that, lots will be more packed, seats will no longer be vacant, trains in general will just be more crowded and tighter. Then after Labor Day weekend, parking lots will be over max capacity like pre-summer days, and there will be limited standing room on trains again.

The summer months are just so pleasant because we get to experience a more leisurely BART experience due to everyone taking vacations, colleges being out on break, people minimizing their work hours...etc. It's been a nice break from the typical hectic peak commute scene! :)

It'll be tough to say goodbye to these pleasant days. Enjoy this week, everyone!

Friday, August 08, 2008

BART train operator misses a turn! Nothing about BART surprises me anymore

Something I thought couldn't happen on BART happened this morning. Not during my ride, but the ride of a reader who was kind enough to let me share her story with everyone here. A train apparently took the wrong route by missing a turn. Is this human error? Computer glitch? It can't purely be a computer glitch without human data entry...

You've GOT TO READ THIS STORY below. Thanks, C.T. for sharing!

This morning I got on the 8:29 train from Hayward (headed toward Richmond), and all seemed well. I was peacefully reading my newspaper and ignoring the train conductor announcements, when I noticed that we had pulled into the West Oakland station.

Okay, I did get on the right train? The Richmond line does not go to West Oakland. We had been moving kind of slowly, but I didn’t think anything of it. The conductor (is that what they call them?) comes on in a CLEAR voice (unlike the monosyllabic station announcements) and mentions that we missed our turn. We missed our turn? WTF? How do you miss a turn on a train? Apparently, there was a little “computer” glitch that caused the train to head to San Francisco instead of Richmond.

We were detained at West Oakland and turned around. The conductor walked through the train to the other side (you know the snake-like qualities of BART are somewhat amusing) and headed to the other end, so that we could indeed head toward the North Bay. You could hear passengers everywhere whipping out those cell phones calling their bosses to explain their tardiness in advance. Somebody’s job interview DID NOT GO WELL.

Anyway, my usually uneventful 30 minute BART ride, turned in to a 60 minute ride. Thankfully, I didn’t have to transfer.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's also up to the passengers!

As much as we can blame BART for not doing more to keep the trains clean, or not maintaining the condition of the seats and carpeting, one thing I need to point out is the drastic difference between transit riders in Japan and some of the Bay Area passengers. Drinking and eating on trains are allowed in Japan. In fact, there are snack shops, vending machines, bakeries, restaurants everywhere around the stations and even on the platforms. I see people bring in breakfast rolls, coffee, canned iced tea onto the trains, and take bites and sips during the ride. However, what I also see are people meticulously cleaning after their own messes, and even the mess of others. Passengers, upon leaving the train, not only always dispose of their own trash, they also pick up loose pieces, if any, (whether it's napkin, an extra lid) left by others. Hey, I'm sure Japan has their litterbugs too but from what I observed daily, most people are very considerate.

Of course there are also people in the Bay Area who are cautious about not leaving any type of mess on the trains too, but it's generally those that break the no food/drink policy that don't care enough to clean up after themselves. As I've mentioned before, I've seen people eating Taco Bell and dripping sauce all over the seats and don't care. We've all seen coffee spills...yet the very next day, the same spiller brings in coffee yet again.

I'm not saying that it's the fault of passengers that BART trains aren't as clean as we'd like, but we also need to reflect our own actions. Most of you who read this blog are probably not the rule breakers though! Neither am I, although I do sneak in a piece of gum or Jolly Rancher into my mouth during rides....and don't worry, I always put away the wrappers so it's not left on the train :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

A new experiment

You might recall that I mentioned 3 months back that I'm presently pregnant with my first. So far, everything has been smooth and great for both me and the baby, and we've now reached the start of the 3rd trimester. Until this point, one can barely tell that I am pregnant. Even now, you can easily pass me for someone who may have just had a big breakfast since I am not protruding much at all...yet. However, that's about to change the next 2 months as I approach the due date. Thus far, I've been perfectly capable of standing in the trains and never expect anyone to give up their seat for me. But it will be very interesting to see if the last few weeks before my due date, while I am large, clumsy, and unbalanced, will there be anyone on BART who would give up their seat for me?

Personally, I've given my seat up to visibly pregnant women for years. I sometimes think they need it more than certain seniors because one slip or fall could be devastating!! Plus, they are so tired and carrying so much extra weight that any sudden stop and go could throw them off.

This is not to say I expect anyone to give up their seat for me once I reach that stage. In Japan, as I mentioned, pregnant women are designated the specially marked handicapped seats. Here, they are not and we all know that the handicapped seats are more like first come, first serve anyways, with few (but there are some!) folks getting up for those who need it more.

As my stomach grows more, I'm going to see how people react around me. No big deal if I remain standing...I'm prepared to. I'll grab to the safety bars tightly!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The good and bad of my Japan mass transit experiences

If you've read my blog for some time now, you know that I like to compare mass transit systems (generally abroad) to what we have here in the Bay Area. I've just returned from a vacation in Japan and used quite a few different systems across the island from Tokyo Subway, Nagoya Subway, Japan Rail, Kyoto Mass Transit, to Osaka Subway. Very interesting experience overall, but I have to say I've missed the simplicity of BART. Japan's various systems are so complicated, especially Tokyo Subway, although you can pretty much get anywhere by public transport, which was nice too.

Here are some of the good, the bad, and the plain bizarre of my Japan mass transit experiences:

  1. Passengers line up there. They do not cut in line or squeeze through from the side of you. People respect rules and follow them, no matter how long the lines are. And trust me, the lines get MUCH LONGER there than here.
  2. Subway trains are designed for maximum standing room (see image) with 2 strips of side window benches (like Muni) and many many flex handle bars of all heights for people to hold on to. BART's demo cars contain only 6 of those hanging pulls for passengers per car, which is not enough. You need to have them all over for a crowded train.
  3. Trains are clean, no matter what time of day! I did not see a littered train while I was there. All train floors and seats were clean at all hours. People just don't litter in there....and if they drink or eat (allowed), they pick up after themselves.
  4. Similarly, train stations are quite clean too.
  5. When train is a maximum capacity, you can always count on those standing by the doors to step outside the train to let people exit and enter. They just do it. Here at BART, very few make that courteous move.
  6. Trains were ALWAYS on time. Doesn't matter if it's the cross country rail or the local subway, they arrive right on the dot.
  7. Train have clear signs inside and out indicating the next destination and the direction/route of the trains. There were vocal computerized announcements too (bilingual) that were audible. BART really needs that.
  8. Handicapped seats are very clearly marked with signs, pictorial designations (for handicapped, elderly, children, and pregnant women), and some seats are even marked a different color so they really stand out. Anyone who sits there while someone who is actually designated to remains standing should no doubt feel the shame and guilt with all those markings. People, on the most part, do get up for the designees.
  9. Platforms contain clear indications on how and where people should line up. Some BART stations have these lines too...but basically the painted lines instruct passengers in waiting to line up away from the train doors to allow people to get out first.
  10. Station restrooms are actually decently clean. Some are even friendly to families (with changing tables, child seats...etc.) We all know BART bathrooms are usually pretty filthy.
  11. The AC was always on strong (it was hot there) and they make sure trains are all well ventilated. Even at max capacity, I still could breath. On BART, often it is stuffy when the train is not even crowded.
  12. Connections were clear and easily identified by maps and signs. Whether you need to connect to another line, subway system, the train, or the bus, the Japan stations make it very easy for you to find your way.
  13. Trains came very often, not every 15-20 minutes.
  14. Rides were CHEAP, despite long distances! Much cheaper than the $7-8 we pay from East Bay surburbia to Downtown SF.
  15. Computerized ticket machines are everywhere-- easy for anyone to locate/map out their routes, purchase tickets.
  16. Trains have overhead racks so passengers can unload their bags to stand safely, and also not block standing or sitting room with their baggages! This is something I've always thought BART should have!
  1. No concept of personal pretty much have none when it's peak hours. During peak commute hours, there are gloved station officers who make sure everyone in line gets onto the trains, no matter how crowded. I couldn't take a photo during peak commute hours because I literally could not raise my arms (wanted so bad to show you guys just how tight it was but couldn't, sorry!) I was smashed onto my husband's back while a kid was smashed onto my hip on one side, and a man's backpack was smashed onto my shoulder. As for the back, my back and the back of the kid's mom were conjoined. I could not move any part of my body. However uncomfortable, I do have to point out that the train was well ventilated despite the over-capacity, and there were enough flex pull down safety handles for everyone. If you are even slightly claustrophobic, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!
  2. All options to the major airport are not as economical and easily accessible as BART to SFO. In Japan, you have several connection options to the airport but you need a separate ticket (rides cost more than BART option) and you need to change trains/platforms/terminals. But to be fair, the stations and routes are much more complex in Japan and the airports are all quite far from the cities.
The Bizarre
  1. OK, so maybe this is not bizarre but I don't yet know the reason something like this needs to be around. It's not a bad idea, just a little weird to me, that's all. There are female only train cars during certain peak hours. Even the lines outside these designated trains are marked for female passengers only!! Why? I can only think of one potential reason but I don't want to jump to conclusions...the peak hour trains are so uncomfortably crowded and put you so close to other passengers that perhaps there are those whose conduct can be deemed appropriate or even illegal? And these trains protect the females? I don't know. If you know the real reason, please do share.
Lastly, I've posted a few photos here that show some of the things I discussed. Couldn't take too many since most of the time, we could barely move on the trains. Check out the captions.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back from vacation in Japan; got quite a few things to share with you!

The vacation itself was to experience different parts of the country north and south, and soaked in local experiences such as baseball, sumo, and yes...the very complex but comprehensive mass transit systems. We're not the tour bus types of people who look at sites in back of a window...we definitely like to get out there, get around the way locals get around, eat what they eat, and see what they see. I have some stories for you!!

I kept a list chronicling the good and the bad with the Japanese transit systems which I will spend the time to write out tomorrow. I've also taken some pictures of interesting signs, overly crowded conditions, train designs, train conditions...etc which I'll post this week some time.

Hope you'll check back in by mid-week for a detailed write-up on Japan mass transit and how it compares to what we have here in the Bay Area.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Going abroad again, will certainly compare the public transit to what we have here

Heading to Japan soon to tour up and down the island. Heard mostly very positive things about Japan's efficient, yet very complex and intricate rail and subway systems and to tell you the truth, I'm a little nervous about mastering it but will need to rely on it to get to certain destinations.

If you've been to multiple cities in Japan and have any tips to offer, feel free to share them!! I'd really appreciate it. For now, I have maps and itineraries printed out, regional and local connections written down, and routes and alternate routes charted out. Trying my best to be prepared but who knows if that's going to help?!

I will definitely check-in online from Japan to share any funny or interesting anecdotes on! Talk to you again soon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Have your ticket handy! Is that too much to ask?

I'd like to think of myself as a pretty understanding and patient person but at the same time, I am fairly efficient when it comes down to my daily commute routine. For example, I know where to park (1st to 3rd choice of area) in the BART lot, I know the shortest way from lot to ticket turnstile, I know which train to enter into and exit out of, and I always have my ticket handy or at the very least know where exactly it is. Of course this routine is established after years of riding BART, but even as a new rider way WAY back in my college days, I clearly recall always having my ticket in hand or very close within access in a pocket or purse. I don't think I've ever taken more than 3 seconds to pass through the BART ticket gates...usually it takes me 1 second. Even in a foreign country's public transit system, I go out of my way to go with the flow and not ever slow things down.

Now...the point of my story today! I just don't know how some passengers can take so long digging for their tickets and block the ticket gate while they aimlessly search for each pocket and bag. I mean, you know you're about to cross the's no surprise, so why not have your ticket ready?

Saw a woman who has a roller business suitcase stood in front of the gate for at least 45 seconds trying to find her ticket. Finally, she noticed she was blocking the gate and stepped aside to continue feeling her pockets. Later, I saw a group of 6 teenagers, blocking 3 ticket gates, and none of them had a ticket handy! The girls were searching their purses and laughing, joking around with each other! Commuters started to line-up behind them. Finally, one commuter asked if they can step aside so others can get through. I was lining up to redeem my commuter checks so I had plenty of time to observe! Later, I saw two men, who looked like regular transit riders, who were deeply in chat as they walked towards the ticket turnstiles. As they approached the turnstiles, they remained talking! Neither could pull out their tickets and walk through while continuing their conversation. Both literally stood in front of the turnstiles, searched their pockets and then their suitcase for their BART tickets while they continued talking!

I guess there are all types of people out there! 99% of us are quite efficient! It was just bizarre to see so many that were inefficient and inconsiderate today! They can take all the time they want finding their tickets if they aren't blocking the turnstiles and sort of move their belongs and their bodies out of the way. But to block the flow of passengers going in and out of the station is just a bit lame!!! Funny.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fremont on time starting today? For real?

A BARTMusings reader and Fremont line commuter notified me today that there will be full automatic movement between South Hayward and Fremont beginning Saturday, 7/12! That would be great news for many commuters. Is it really happening? Please keep the rest of us posted. This has been a hot topic and sore experience for many!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A "greener" BART

Just read about BART's plans to go solar; supporting lighting, ticket machines, gates, elevators with sun power. Orinda has been tapped as the pilot station to go solar by end of year!

Props to BART for this pilot program! Every effort counts. Hey, if we can't get cleaner trains, at least we can get 'greener' stations! If you're interested in reading more, take a look here:

A rider helping other riders

Got an email today from a very helpful and resourceful BART commuter (thanks, R.J.) who wanted to share with everyone a new way to find out up to the minute BART delays and elevator operations status.

He set up the SMS capabilities below for those who don't have web access on their mobile phones. Once you sign up, you now can get a text message regarding real time delays and elevator status.

Service advisories by SMS

Elevator status by SMS

For those of us who do have web access on our mobiles, you might already know that BART currently offers this service for us to find out schedules and delays:

Service advisories by email

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

BART popularity soars!

Did you know that BART-SFO ridership increased by 65% since launch? Very good news, impressive, and I predict it will continue to soar. I've written many times about the convenience of this route and how I personally depend on it, especially since I no longer need to transfer at Balboa. Riding BART to SFO sure beats driving across the Bay Bridge and 101 traffic to the airport, finding long term parking, waiting for one of those shuttles to come around, and finally, waiting for passengers to be dropped off by the shuttle one terminal by terminal. However, one down side to this BART-SFO popularity which we've discussed before too....the growing number of luggage pieces taking up seats and excessive amount of standing room space and more BART newbies who do not know the basic BART etiquette. I get dirty looks when I nicely ask them to remove their suitcases from the seats but oh well, they need to learn! As BART gets ever more crowded these days, we all need to learn the etiquette and co-exist.

A few other interesting stats I pulled off the BART website...check them out. Want to point out the last one in particular: 1 out of 3 Contra Costa County commuters traveling to Oakland and San Francisco who chose BART. That's a very impressive stat right there!

1.3 billion
Number of passenger miles traveled on BART every year

$400 million
Amount of money BART riders spend in a year at San Francisco retailers

100 million
Number of people riding BART every year

Metric tons of CO2 BART riders save annually

Average number of BART riders on a weekday

Gallons of gas saved by BART riders every day

Percentage of peak period/peak direction commute traffic BART carries across the Bay

Pounds of pollutants a day saved by each BART rider

1 in 3
Number of Contra Costa County commuters traveling to Oakland and San Francisco who chose BART

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Day After...

Going back to work after an extended weekend or vacation is never fun. While technically we should all feel more well rested and recharged, I think many of us cannot easily let go of the sad end to our worry-free and deadline-free days. On BART today, I felt miserable and tired. After going through my morning emails, I just zoned out and stared blankly at billboards.

Meaningless thoughts such as the below passed through my head.
"Oh, that movie is coming out, cool!"
"Geez, that's an old ad, can't BART get new advertisers?"
"Urgh, like I would ever go see that?"

Then, I saw a McDonald's billboard with a double cheeseburger and "100% BEEF" emblazoned across it. Why be so proud it's 100% beef? Wasn't it 100% beef before? I knew it wasn't 100% quality beef parts but I thought at the very least it all came from a cow? Why such a big billboard advertising the fact that cheeseburger's a McD's are now 100%? Very disturbing!

Yes, meaningless thoughts but they got me through the commute (still puzzled and grossed out by the 100% beef ad). I'll need today to readjust my attitude and get back into the swing of work again!

Oh by the way...I missed a huge milestone last week. I posted my 400th entry on BARTMusings! Thank you, everyone, for all your comments, ideas, criticisms, support, suggestions, and time!! I enjoy writing about my musings because you make it fun for me!


Monday, June 30, 2008

2 unrelated thoughts for the 1st of July

July already! This year has really flown by. 2 totally separate thoughts to share on this day.

First, nice new website BART has! More on par with web standards these days. I just used it and liked it. Found it much easier to browse and search. Looks good, BART!

The second thought is a bit more serious. As the hands-free rule go into effect in California, I can't help but wonder if that also applies to train operators? A nice reader shared with me his recent observation of a train operator who was chatting up with a friend on her cellphone. According to this reader, she was on her cellphone the entire time except as she approaches each station (thank goodness she does this at least) then she'd put her phone down, but as soon as the door opens, she's immediately back on it. This reader has seen this particular train operator do this regularly. I've actually seen similar action myself several times. Once, a passenger tried to call the T.O. but she didn't even pick-up....too busy on her cell? I hope not.

Is constant cellphone use allowed for train operators? Is it safe? I can't imagine so. Seems like as all drivers in CA can no longer hold a cellphone while driving starting today, same should apply for transit operators that carry numerous passengers each trip! But then, is hands-free even safer for a BART train operator? Seems like there shouldn't be ANY cellphone chatting, but then again, I don't know exactly how manual or automatic the system is. How much human decision and physical maneuvering is really needed?

Think Bay Area traffic is bad?

Since 93, I've been mostly living in the Bay Area. I'm originally from LA. LA's traffic has always been poor but the past 5 years, I've noticed, each time I visit, that it has been getting worse and completely unavoidable, even at off or odd hours. This past weekend, we visited family in LA again, and it did not matter we were driving at 12pm, 3pm, 9pm, 11pm, or even 1am, we ran into tight congestion on one freeway or another!!!

Bay Area traffic is tight and often poor during commute hours but aside from the more eventful days in the city, traffic is generally tolerable during non-commute hours and when we do run into a jam, it has an "end", unlike in LA, it is just a continuous jam and you are practically moving at 3-5 mph the entire way through.

I read an article recently in LA Times that LA's public transit rail system, Metrolink, is finally gaining ridership due to gas prices and has reached records in June. Good! Glad to finally see people staring to take Metrolink!! Perhaps this will help ease the congestion a tad bit!

Once we got back to the Bay Area, we let out a huge sigh of relief. Traffic here is still much more tolerable then LA where pretty much everywhere we headed, no matter at what hour, we ran into congestion. It was quite a pleasure hitting 24 yesterday en route home.....every so often, we just need a little reminder that we have it pretty darn good here in the Bay Area. But honestly, give me 2 days of driving up here, I'll probably forget all about this bubble of appreciation that I have after a particularly bad weekend of driving in LA.

And BART, as well as CalTrain, ACE, Muni, and all the transit options we have up here, make it a bit more pleasant for us!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What a good kid!

Every so often, you see something that you just don't see enough, but it gives you hope that there is still good out there. Too often you see people in the disabled seats, pretending to be asleep, pretending to be completely engrossed in their Blackberry or Treo, or pretending to have a magazine that just happens to block their view, while a frail elderly woman is having a tough time balancing as the train moves.

I saw a kid in the disabled seat, probably high school age, with a loud iPod blasting, wearing clothes so baggy it's practically slipping off his body. I was too quick to judge. I saw a shaky, frail elderly man walk in, in need of a seat. I didn't think the kid would react and assumed that he would just continue to listen to his music without a care in the world. It's a scene I've seen too many times.

But I was wrong. This kid immediately got up. Not only did he offer his seat, he helped the old man into the seat, and helped position the old man's bags next to his legs. He was polite and genuinely caring.

It was really nice to see. I guess too often I've seen the opposite and I've sort of lost "hope". I get up for anyone who appears to need a seat, or on a few occasions, when I have no seat to give, I help someone find a seat. Probably fewer than 25% of passengers do that, sometimes it seems to be more like 10% of passengers. With the younger generation, I seldom see them do the "right" thing. But I was very happy to be wrong this time. There are still good and responsible kids out there who aren't selfish and genuinely care for the well being of others.

It was great to see!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A message for BART employees who read this blog

I've had the urge to write this post for quite some time, mostly fueled by the growing list rude comments left by BART employees in response to passengers' thoughts.

BART employees, the fact is, we all ride BART because we believe in the system, at least that's the case for me. I think it is a valuable service and Bay Area commuters are quite fortunate to have this option, especially these days with gas prices. In fact, if you somehow could survey my out of town acquaintances, most of them would tell you that my overall impression of BART is quite positive. If you've followed this blog for some time, you'd know that I've complimented SFO route plenty of times!

That said, PLEASE don't take it so personally and get so defensive when passengers say that the system does need some improvements. We, the passengers, pay pretty handsomely daily to ride the system, and we are entitled to complain when there is reason to complain.

Of course blatantly rude bashing is not constructive (although in their defense, these guys have the right to complain too), but over 90% of the comments on BARTMusings actually contain reasonable and thoughtful suggestions for improvements!!

If you just take a step back, read and consider what we have to say, it's not all that out of line. Many of us have traveled often and abroad and know the strengths and weaknesses of a system. Constructive criticisms and suggests are shared by commenters all the time on BARTMusings....I've even dedicated at least 8-10 entries just on realistic ways to improve BART.

So, please don't be so rude and leave comments like:

Passengers don't know what they're talking about, you're always wrong....
Whatever, you say what you want to say, just keep paying my paychecks....
If you don't want to ride BART, ride the bus...
You think we have nothing better to do?
You're lucky we haven't hiked up fares even more.....

BARTMusings is a forum for everyone, from riders, non-riders, first-timers, to employees, to share their thoughts and observations regarding BART. Many have said that whenever they leave a comment on, the comment is not acknowledged. So, they need a website like this to voice their opinions. And I'm pleased to say that most commenters on BARTMusings leave well thought-out, constructive comments, instead of just plainly bad-mouth the system in foul language.

So, BART employees, just know that we ride because we believe in the system but we also want to see certain improvements made after more than 25 years in operation. It's nothing personal. We pay $6 - $12.50 a day to ride BART. Don't bash us with such comments just because we ask you to better the system.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Special coffee mug to trump no beverage rule? Not going to work!

Did you read this article??? BART actually believes people will run out to buy these special mugs to drink their coffees and teas on the trains? They must not ride BART enough if they honestly think that. People bring in drinks of all types, in all containers. I've even seen a normal mug (open top) being brought in and then spilled everywhere. Most bring in paper cups from Starbucks or Peet's. Plenty bring in soda cans or plastic bottles. Once I saw someone pouring a pot of coffee into a Dixie cup.

If BART wants to seriously enforce the no beverage/no food policy, then by all means, suck it up, ASSIGN ONE PATROLLER IN EVERY TRAIN FOR A FEW WEEKS IN A ROW JUST TO TICKET VIOLATORS!!! People are not going to change their habits unless they pay a price and they certainly will not be changing the "cup" they drink from. If BART actually thinks they will make more money from selling these special mugs, I think they do not know their passengers well enough.

People need to just learn to either get up 10 minutes earlier and have your coffee early, or just wait until you get to your destination. There are plenty of Starbucks, Peet's, Seattle's Best really can't wait until then to get your caffeine fix? Then, eat caffeine pills on the train then!

I've personally seen coffee spilled on trains too many times-- "magic" cup or not, the coffee will spill one way or another. Please, BART, spend your time brainstorming on other ideas to improve the system!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spare the Air brings out all sorts of interesting people

With BART free until noon today, we had the pleasure of seeing many different types of people on the train today.

Let me name a few examples for you:

-Kids who are out of school and just looking for a place to hangout
-First time BART riders with several maps and brochures in hand and ask everyone around them if this train goes to SF
-Lots of moms with strollers. Cute but also take up a lot of space during commute peak times
-Large groups of senior citizens. They must be taking a field trip together from the same senior homes. All have fanny packs, cameras on hand
-New riders/day trippers who started their picnics early while on BART
- New riders who can't even tell which side of the platform is the side they need and holds the door open while they find out

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Help a fellow commuter find a stolen on!

The post below is from BART commuter Jeff A. His motorcycle got stolen in the N. Concord BART station. Please help if you have any information at all!!! How rigorous is the policing around the parking lots???

Full dress Harley STOLEN from N. Concord BART Station

During the daytime on Wednesday, June 11th, my dark blue full dress Harley (faring, saddlebags, trunk) was stolen from the motorcycle parking adjacent to the pedestrian walkway about 200’ ft from the Station Agent’s booth. One or more people may have been involved. Apparently, another Harley was stolen the same day from the PH station. If you think you saw anything or anyone around the motorcycles, please call BART Police Officer R. Barrera #418. Thanks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New riders shock

With gas prices still on the rise, we all have seen and felt the increased BART ridership. My father in-law is not a new rider per se, but for someone who typically drives across the Bay Bridge, he's been taking BART instead on occasions. He shared something interesting with me yesterday. He said, "Good thing I read your blog, I now see what you're talking about, all the weird and rude people on BART."

Wow, I thought, I'm glad Bartmusings is good for prevents new rider shock. Well, good! Happy to hear that. He then told me what he saw....

He saw a man with ear plugs (normal) who just started clipping his finger nails while on the train (abnormal). With clippings flying everywhere, he didn't care who was watching or what people were thinking, and instead patted away his nail clippings off his legs so they are flying off in all directions. Serious lack of manners, but I'm not shocked or surprised one bit...I've seen that on BART several times..people clipping their finger nails. No toe nails yet, thank goodness!

This man, after he shoo'd away his nail clippings, then started singing very loudly in the train (abnormal but we've all seen it). Yet another slightly shocking behavior to new BART riders but those of us who ride daily, we've seen our share of "performers" on BART who just don't care that they are emitting noise, making a fool of themselves, or being a bit scary and bizarre.

New riders, welcome to our BART world where you experience something new and shocking every week, and nothing will surprise you after a few years of commuting via BART!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Anyone else feeling his pain? Complaints from a frequent Fremont line rider

I got this email from a very frustrated Fremont line commuter. I feel for him....BART often minimizes the negative impact for PR purposes (what else can they do?) This rider's total commute time has increased almost 3 fold and he actually found out the truth behind when Hayward power station will be fixed...hint: MUCH longer than the publicly stated 6 weeks!

You've got to read his email.....(Thanks again for sending!) Speak up if you are just as frustrated! BART needs to know!


I am a frequent commuter on the Fremont Line. Since BART "blew up their power station" in the Hayward Yard, their PR people say it only causes a 10-15 minute delay and will be fixed in 6 weeks. Well, I have a beef with that. Read on, my friend...
If you take the 423a, 438a, 453a, or 508a, you will not need to transfer at Bayfair to get to Fremont. But, you still crawl at a snails pace (literally!) once past Bayfair. But, if you take the 523a or any train thereafter, you WILL have to transfer at Bayfair, takes about 10 min of waiting, then more snails pacing on to Fremont.
The delays are not 10-15 minutes, they are on average 30-40 minutes. This time includes standing and waiting at the Fremont Station, then having to board an SF train, as there are no Richmond trains going to Richmond (just to Fremont). Then the train literally crawls (I can get out and walk faster) from Fremont to Bayfair, then we all have to get out and "transfer" to a Richmond train, this entails waiting 20-30 minutes on the Bayfair platform.
This "problem" has increased my commute, round-trip on BART by 47 minutes, NOT the 10-15 min the BART PR people say.
Oh, yes, from Bayfair on South, you can no longer depend on the message signs or the
voice notification. The times they announce are completely off. Useless is more like it.
Here are the stats:
Then, to make matter worse, I spoke with one of their Electricians who happened to be on my train one morning, he said that it will take a few months, NOT 6 weeks! to repair the burnt out electrical station (not sure what to call it, but you can see it all blackened as you pass through the Hayward Yard).
I really hope they fire the numbskull who short circuited everything.
Do you know of other BART riders who are upset like me?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How young is too young to ride on BART alone?

I saw a young boy today, no older than 8 perhaps, riding BART alone today. He was already on the train by the time I got on in Orinda, and by the time I got off at Civic Center, he was just getting ready to pack up and leave. He caught a lot of attention not just because of his age, but he was playing a portable video game of some type the entire time with volume blasting! He did not have a headset but then again, he is so young and riding alone, would his parents actually teach him to use a headset in public out of politeness? Probably not.

The entire ride we all could here..."beep beep", "bang bang", "boom", and all sorts of electronic sounds and tunes as he's intensely playing his shooting game on the portable screen.

I have a nephew who is 8, and this little boy is smaller than him! To me, I just think it's so dangerous for such a young kid to be riding on BART alone! Where are his parents?

Isn't there a rule on BART against this?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blindness in question

Bizarre situation this morning. Saw a young man walking in with a blind walking stick (apologies in advance for not knowing the proper term for it). Generally, when you see a blind passenger, you dash up from any seat you're sitting in. I was standing today but I noticed people were not getting up for him. Then, I had a good look at him. He looked like he can see! His eyes were focused, he knew where to look for potential seats and spaces, he also took next steps without hesitation. Meanwhile, he was swinging around his stick from left to right very quickly, suddenly points at a seat by the door with the stick, at eye-level to the passenger seated, and says, "Can I take this seat?" He was looking right at her when he spoke.

I don't know what to think. I'm sure he needed the walking stick for one reason or another but in all ways possible, he looked like he could see, and see well.

Once he was seated, he went to sleep. So I wasn't really able to examine him some more.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What's with all the broken doors?

At different hours of the day through the last few weeks, I've been encountering more and more broken train doors that remain shut. They have these stickers that are marked broken, but you can't really seen them from the outside, hence, most people just wait lamely for it to open as other passengers have already boarded the train through other doors, and suddenly, these people realize the doors are broken and have to dash like mad for one of the doors nearby. Sometimes they make it, sometimes they don't.

Once I even saw 3 doors in a row that were broken, making the passengers in line dash quite a few yards down just to find a way into the train.

Not to mention the pain this causes on the way out of the trains too. Despite crowded conditions, you need to say "excuse me", "excuse me", "coming through", as you push yourself through the aisles from train to train to find a door that actually works!

What are these doors broken and left unfixed? Or are doors being fixed daily but new ones break just as quickly?

All I know is...I've seen an increase in broken and unopened doors!