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.