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 bartmusings@gmail.com

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 bartmusings@gmail.com. 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. :)