Monday, March 31, 2008

No one fears fines and community service for eating/drinking on BART

Chronicle's Rachel Gordon wrote an article today titled, "More food options at BART stations, but high fines await snackers inside the gates".

BART Police Chief Gary Gee discusses that consuming food or beverage within any "paid areas" will lead to penalties of up to a $250 fine and 48 hours of community service. He says, "BART police officers will ticket riders who eat or drink in the paid area, which we define as the places where you need a ticket, such as inside the fare gates of a station, on platforms or on any train," BART Police Chief Gary Gee said today. Those who defy the ban could be cited for an infraction and face penalties of up to a $250 fine and 48 hours of community service.

No one cares about these fines because everyday I see people eating or drinking something! No one will take these warnings seriously until they've received a ticket or have seen someone getting one...and that just won't happen unless BART is more serious about enforcing this rule.

I've raised this before but only to attract criticisms from people who feel that enforcing food/beverage rule is insignificant compared to crimes! Duh.....of course it is insignificant! And I do not want to take time away from those BART cops that are working hard at ensuring security and safety in the parking lots, stations, platforms, and train!! Of course not!

But here's the thing....are they all busy at all times? Why are there 4 or 5 BART police officers chatting with each other in front of the Civic Center Station florist on ticketing level? Or 10 officers after a Warriors or A's game (I understand the need in that area) but a lot of the "unsafe situations" actually happen inside the trains after these games where people are intoxicated! I'm sure they are discussing important BART security issues while they are together but are there really that few resources that have time to walk up and down random trains for enforce rules?

Maybe BART should hire Scouts from high school who can help ticket part time? It could be part of their service. Just kidding...I don't know. But all I know is...just telling people there will be fines is not going to do you any good! People continue to bring in their coffee, bagles, croissants, breakfast bars, breakfast burritos (the worst!), pizza, sandwiches, hotdogs, thai leftovers, cake from the office, king size candy bars, leftover food from ballbarks, and ice cream cones on BART.

By the way, everything I just listed, I've seen being eaten on the trains. I've told people before that they are violating the rules, especially coffee drinkers who come awfully close to spilling on me, but they ultimately don't care!! I

t's a daily habit for them, and to have it be broken, something REAL needs to happen.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Once again....excess luggage on BART needs solution!

For whatever reason, Friday afternoon's ride home also included many passengers returning home from SFO. I walked in and at least 8 empty seats were taken up by people's suitcases, golf bags, and carry-ons. Generally, at Civic Center Station, there are plenty of empty seats left, and eventually, by Montgomery, they get filled up. But this Friday, every seat was taken, by people or by luggage pieces.

I don't know if these SFO passengers were newbies or what, but no one even bothered to remove their excess baggage from the empty seats to let actual PEOPLE sit.

I walked in and immediately spotted someone who had a golf bag leaning against an empty seat-- I told the couple, "Can you move this aside a little so I can take this seats? Thanks."

They acted like if I am asking them to give up their child or something, but reluctantly, they moved aside the golf bag, squeezed it in between them, and I took the adjacent seat.

There were at least 7 more seats taken by various passengers' luggage. One couple was so over-packed that they had suitcases and carry-ons that piled on top of TWO empty seats. It's quite ridiculous really, especially since they never took the initiative to move the luggage underneath their feet, or just pile on top of their laps, in order to let standing passengers sit.

By Embarcadero, the train was at max capacity. A few people boldly asked the SFO passengers to remove their luggage from the seats--- you'd think they would comply, but they sure didn't do it without making a big fuss and giving some major attitude.

They say...

"where am I going to put all this?"
"what do they expect us to do with our suitcases?"
"we got here first."

Though I was already seated, I wanted to tell them off, "if you are so worried about where your luggage should go, why don't YOU stand UP, and put your luggage on your own seat?" Before I contemplated saying this aloud, another woman pretty much read my mind, and told the couple to stand up if they insist on letting their luggage take up empty seats.

The couple was shocked by the request. I don't know what was so precious that was inside their luggage but he actually vacated his seat and put his luggage on top of it.

By MacArthur, all the luggage-occupied seats were vacated.

Once again, I just have to say that yes, BART to SFO and back is a wonderful convenience but luggage occupancy is a BIG issue. The demo cars offer more room, but not enough still, and they don't prevent people from insisting to pile up their suitcases on top of perfectly good empty seats.

Can BART post a sign? BART neophytes really need to learn some basic courtesy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tourney on my mind 24X7

I'm breaking my own rule again and writing about something other than BART and the always fun Bay Area commute. Feel free to skip this if you could care less about my sports devotion...I understand :)

My 3/20 post about UCLA proved to be another unpopular's OK, it was more for good luck and for my own sanity, so I do appreciate you guys putting up with it. I got one response from someone who believes UCLA has no shot again UNC. A lot of people think that, especially after the last 2 games we played, but I believe in our team, our talent, and our drive. We'll make it work and pull through.

After nearly blowing a 21-point lead last night, I am obsessively reading every analysis of the Xavier-UCLA match-up tomorrow, and even during my sleeping hours, I had dream sequences about UCLA playing against Xavier, being up 2 at the half, and coming back with a strong 2nd half. Hope it comes true.

I think last night's game was a good wake-up call for them: Take nothing for granted, focus one game at a time, and if we want to win it all, we need to make some adjustments. No one was happy with the win because as perfectionists, they know that was far from their potential and capability. It was a B-rated effort from us as a team for many reasons, giving all the UCLA haters out there more false reasons to bag on us and the Pac-10.

But I do believe in our players, Coach Howland, and our talent. The one encouraging thing that picks me back up over and over again is the fact that every game, someone different (well, aside from Kevin Love since he's the consummate pro in every game) steps it up a notch to get us to the finish line.

Why do I believe? For countless reasons, and because of this miracle:

Bring on Xavier.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hideous delays today

My usual train was delayed by 16 minutes. It's not so much being 16 minutes late that upsets me (although standing on the platform with the wind continuously blowing on my face for 16 minutes is certainly miserable), what I really dislike about delays is the long lines of passengers that await an already packed train at every station, and everyone insists on squeezing on. Can't blame them I guess, waiting sucks. Sometimes, if there's a train 3-5 minutes behind, I'd consider waiting for the next train to avoid the crowds but no such luck today. The next train status was completely unknown. Alright, I thought, in I go.

By Orinda, the train was at maximum capacity. I was literally standing between the legs of an older man sitting down in the handicapped seat, with my face 2 inches from another woman's curly hair which poked me at every jerky motion of the train.

Rockridge is a popular station, and as we approached, I saw how crazy long the lines were. There were at least 15 people who wanted to squeeze into my particular train car. I ended up with a man standing so close to me that our shoulders were joined as one, and his shoes were touching mine. It was incredibly uncomfortable-- I felt body heat (not to mention some body odor) all around me. One second, someone's backpack runs into me, another second, someone steps on me because they didn't have a bar to hold on to.

Not to mention, only 2 people got off at MacArthur while at least 5 more piled in. It was unbearable. I felt people's exhaling breath on my face since we were all so close together. I knew what song the kid in back of me was listening to because I was only a few inches away from his iPod.

It didn't get better at the Oakland downtown stations. We pretty much were beyond maximum capacity all the way through Embarcadero. The train ended up arriving nearly 20 minutes later than the usual time.

I was actually relieved to breath the biologically polluted air as I reached the street level of Civic Center Station.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

South Hayward BART Station Safety

Every so often, I'd get a direct question about BART. I'm always really flattered when that happens and do try my best to provide an accurate and comprehensive response. I received a question about the safety of S. Hayward station this day and age from someone who is just moving back to the Bay Area from Atlanta. While I recall reading articles about crimes at S. Hayward station, I definitely did not want to generalize and thought it might be more useful if I open it up to people who actually know and use the station, and let them answer this question for this nice woman.

So, if you know or use the S. Hayward station, what is it like? Is it safe? Do you see BART police presence?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Some people just aren't afraid to ask

I'm about to describe a situation to you that I witnessed last Friday. I found it amusing purely because of this woman's audacity, although I can't say I agree with her. I'm curious what you think of this situation.

In a crowded train home, in comes a larger young (no more than 30s) woman who was left standing. To get to the point here, I'm not going to sugar coat anything. She is definitely overweight, and perhaps weighed in somewhere between 225-250...unhealthily large for her frame. It was apparent that she did not enjoy standing during the ride as she let out a loud sigh every few seconds, and stretched her head in all directions to look for place to sit. She didn't have a lot carry-ons, just a small purse that hung over her shoulders. She may be large but she looked like she was keeping her balance well.

Here's what came as a surprise to me. She squeezed her way down to another section of the train and tapped on the shoulders of a man dressed in a suit, who was seated by the window. She says, "Sir, if you don't mind, I'd really like to sit down."

This poor man was probably just as tired after a long day of work as she was. It was an awkward question. He was not seated in a handicapped seat but the fact that she picked him out of the crowd and asked him to give his seat up in front of everyone also meant that he had to think twice before telling her 'no!' (which I might have done in this situation, especially if I'm tired too, maybe a little grumpy from a tough day at work, and got my seat fair and square).

The nice gentleman actually said, "sure, no problem" and got up for her. Since he had the window seat, the passenger seated next to him (who happens to be female) also had to vacate, causing a cluster **ck in the crowded aisle. Perhaps he is just a rare gentleman who believed that he should conduct in this manner, or perhaps it was the pressure of being asked in front of at least 15 people who were awaiting his reply. The woman then refused to get into the window seat and asked for the aisle seat. Since she refused to get in first, she pretty much left the other passenger with no choice but be jammed up in the window seat.

Nevertheless, the overweight woman did say thanks and got her aisle seat.

I thought she was rude and self-entitled. I may not have have reacted so well if someone randomly asks me to vacate my seat.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time for madness

I've learned to not talk about anything other than BART and the commute on this blog because whenever I get off topic, I tend to receive very negative feedback. Which is fine, I can take criticisms! But every so often, I cannot help it. If you've been following BART Musings for quite some time, you probably know just a hand full of personal things about me. For one, I've talked about being a pet owner and animal lover. Second, you know I work around SOMA and need to take a connecting shuttle, which can become a drag. Third, you know I live in Orinda, previously in Lafayette. And the one other thing that I used to talk about more but stopped on purpose is that I am a big sports fan, from NFL, MLB, to College!

I'm breaking my own rule today because March Madness has started and it is all I can think about. If you don't care much about the tournament, I know I must sound like an idiot, annoying fool, or a mad person, but the past two tourneys have brought me so close to the championship that this year, anything less than winning it all will just rip out my heart. I am so nervous and anxious for my team. They have more skill, more experience, and more talent combined than any other team, but we all know that in these situations, you need something else too....momentum and luck.

I am writing this entry to bring mojo for my beloved team. Please take it one step at at time, but win it all!! We're bringing banner #12 home to Pauley Pavilion this year!! guys (the players) can all join the draft because after that I'll be OK with 1 or 2 years of rebuilding.

Who is my team? If you've read my entries around March the past two years, you know I'm talking about the UCLA BRUINS! Give me a reason to fly to San Antonio! Win it all this time please! Go Bruins!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Random motion sickness

I'm not someone who gets motion sensitive. I can ride all sorts of roller coasters, I am fine with unstable flights and wavy boat rides (well, except once where our tour boat practically flipped over off the Napali Coast-- they really should not have allowed tours on that day!).

Today, on my way home, I don't know if I was extra tired, or just sitting in a weird position, or sitting in an extra stuffy train with strong odors, but my goodness, I had to repeatedly fight back some urges to regurgitate! This rarely happens to me, and especially not on BART!

It was awful. I had to dig up an old jolly rancher and hoped that the sourness would fight back my urges! I guess it worked since nothing came out but the 30 minute ride seemed endless and I just felt terrible!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stupid man causes 4 minute delay

Actually, I don't know if it was his action that caused the 4 minute delay but it was stupid of him to pry over the doors anyways. A man, with a suitcase, sticks both his arms as the train doors were closing, and pulls open the doors, and keeps it opened by jamming his suitcase through. As he made his way into an already packed train, everyone was staring at him, with anger.

It took him some time to fully squeeze his body and suitcase in as the doors were stuck mid-way. It wouldn't open fully or close. As we heard the train operator's warnings, and the sound of other doors opening and closing, our train doors were stuck open half way. After a few attempts to open and close it, it finally closed and re-opened as it should have. Meanwhile, more people squeezed into the train. It was at unbearable capacity.

We ended up sitting at Rockridge for 4 minutes. I can't say for sure that it was the stupidity of that one suitcase carrying man that caused the delay, but his action sure slowed us down and made the ride even more cramped and stuffy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. It's been a couple years since I got into the spirit, but I proudly displayed green today!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BART's solution to financial woes

"Two weeks ago, the financial outlook for BART in the new fiscal year looks grim..." reports Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle.

So to BART's credit, they came up with two solid plans to generate revenue: An increase in parking fines and large advertising contracts. OK, sounds good, at least they are not raising fares and parking permit fees AGAIN.

But here is where I am puzzled. "
The nine BART directors voted unanimously to give themselves a raise, boosting their monthly stipend to $1,300 - an increase of $300," Gordon reports.

Now, while I understand inflation must be factored in amongst other things (not to mention they might deserve it), why couldn't they have given themselves the 30% raise AFTER they receive validation that the new revenue plans will in fact generate the projected numbers? Aren't they celebrating too early? The new fiscal year for BART doesn't even start until July 1st. It's like me saying, oh I think I am going to be promoted next year at work, why don't I buy a new Range Rover now?

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why they voted for their own raise, but in light of the PRESENT outlook, they should have waited to ensure that the revenues from fines and ads are in fact in line with expectations. It just seems weird to me. Otherwise, I'd flatly say the new plans sound great.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I can't stand it when anyone hurls a big chunk of phlegm + spit from their throat and shoots it with force out of their mouth and onto the ground. It's sickening. I don't care if they are old, or it's a cultural thing, or sick, or whatever excuse they have, one needs to have the decency to at least hurl it out in some attempt of silence and spit it out in a tissue or napkin, then toss it.

That said, you WILL NOT believe what I saw today. Someone did that and spit onto the train floors. The carpet is dirty already but it definitely did not need a wet, contagious mass to dirty it up some more! How classless is this person?? And it's not like we had a chance to show our discontent since he exited right afterwards. The yellowish/orangish mass just sat there on the carpet. Everyone who saw the perpetrator was avoiding it like the plague, but some poor woman walked in at West Oakland and steps right over it. No one told her, it's probably better that she didn't know.

Before you start guessing what this person looks like, I'd like to urge you not to. I've seen all types of people do this from all ethnicities, so I really don't think we should be stereotyping and making irresponsible assumptions.

Nevertheless, absolutely disgusting.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ask and you shall receive

Many of us experienced some reluctance about reporting a complaint on the train to the train operator while the perpetrator is right next to you. For me, if someone needs to move their luggage out of people's way, eating their breakfast burrito, or vacate their seat for someone truly in need, I don't mind speaking up to them. But, when the perpetrator is someone who doesn't look like they're in the right state of mind, or they are drunk or homeless, I tend to keep my mouth shut seeing how if they follow me out of the train to have a "word" with me, I definitely have the size disadvantage!

Well, today, it was interesting and freshing to see an elderly man (with a cane, might I add) who was left standing, while two high school or college-aged kids were sitting in the handicapped designated seats without a care in the world. I was standing about 5 feet away. One more minute, I probably would have asked them to stand up for him, but this elderly man marches directly to the intercom and asks the T.O. to request the kids to give the seats to senior citizens and disabled passengers. He said it loud enough for all of us on this side of the train to hear....and instantly, our eyes shifted to the kids.

The kids heard too, slowly grabbed their backpacks, and eventually reluctantly got up. The man got his seat. Interesting. That's definitely another way to do it! I hope the kids learned a lesson.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

People who rush to exit too early

I never understand why people do this-- the only reason I can think of for this type of behavior is that they are new to BART or they are very late for something of extreme importance. Morning commute trains are always packed, and most of us are well aware that 45% of the crowd exits at Embarcadero, while another 45% exists at Montgomery, leaving 10% for the rest of the stops. This morning, a woman standing in the deep end of the train decided to make her way to the doors as soon as we entered the Transbay Tube. The train was at maximum capacity, with barely room to stand. She pushes her way through bodies, saying "excuse me", "excuse me", "need to get out", while people gave her dirty looks. She pushed her way all the the way through until she stood in front of the doors. At that point, we weren't even past half way of the Transbay Tube yet. One person straight up told her, "Most of this train is leaving at Embarcadero, you won't be left on the train."

Not sure why she was in such a rush to push her way through to the front of the door-- she made more than 25 people shift their positions or bags to make room for her to pass. Why couldn't she just wait until we've arrived at Embarcadero and follows the rush of passengers exiting the train then?? It really only takes 4-5 seconds to exit the train with the flow....did she not have 4-5 seconds to spare?