Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is the swine flu making you more aware of those around you on the train?

I've always been very cautious of sicklings on the train. In cramped conditions, you can feel the air from someone's cough. I don't want to repeat what I've written before but I've seen many many hands wipe a wet nose or cover a cough and then go straight to the safety bar. It's expected...it's mass transit.

With the swine flu outbreak, I'm definitely more cautious of every sneeze, cough and wipe around me. I'm constantly dipping my hands in Purell and starting to see more people doing so.

People seem to take the swine flu lightly because of the initial mild symptoms but if the virus continues to spread, it will cause death. I see and hear people make swine flu jokes-- I only hope we can still laugh about it 2 weeks from now.

I've taken public transit in Asia where wearing masks is the norm. I wonder if we'll ever get to that point...I hope not!! Out of curiosity, I looked closely at one of the masks in our first aid kit at home. I was surprised to find out that while it prevents germs from spreading to others, it does not protect the wearer whatsoever.

If you're sick, stay home, if you're worse, go see a doctor. Just don't come into work and get the rest of us sick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BART once again turns to fare increase to decrease deficit

It seems like the only solution BART Board can think of in order to supplement the budget is fare hikes. Now, they are proposing to increase fares to and from San Francisco Airport by 10%.

It already takes 70 minutes for me to take BART from Orinda to SFO, much longer than driving to SFO during off-peak hours which is when I generally schedule my flights. Yet, I've continued to be a fan of taking BART to SFO because of its direct access to the terminal and the savings we gain from not having to pay for parking.

However, if the fare continues to rise to the range of $15 and beyond (we all know fare hikes will continue), I like would not take BART to SFO for short, weekend trips, or one-day business trips.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What to do..what to do...

Today, I sat in a reserved seat when I didn't see any seniors, disabled, or anyone else in need around me. As I sat down, a dressy woman who appeared to be no where near senior status said to me, "I'm a senior citizen, I need to sit." I wasn't going to question her claim. Besides, she was older than me, that I much I know. I complied and said, "Sure, of course." A few stations later, I found myself seated in another reserved seat. An older man walked in. He had head full of silver hair but his face and physique appeared to be much younger than 60+. After the incident with the woman, I wanted to volunteer my seat but didn't want to insult him either in case he was just prematurely gray. I watched him for any signs of wanting a seat. I just couldn't tell. Well, I ended up sitting the rest of the way and he ended up standing while reading a book.

With females and children, it is much easier. I can immediately offer the seat and they'd gladly take it. With some men, it can be offensive. I've seen an old gentleman who got irritated when everyone kept on asking him if he'd like to sit down. He ended saying, "No, I am old but I can stand on my own."

iBART app very cool

I've had an iPhone for 8 months now and FINALLY, I downloaded a BART app for it. It very quickly provided me with live schedules and advisories (versus logging onto the Internet with my computer or laptop to check the status) and saved me 14 minutes today which I used to stay at home and enjoy a cup of coffee.

If you haven't downloaded it already, I highly recommend it.

The sun is out and so are the homeless

This always happens when the weather turns from cold to warm. Today, the Civic Center station vicinity was filled with homeless folks sitting around the sidewalks, chatting, catching up, soaking up the sun, laying out their belongings, and sun drying their wardrobe; all in great spirits! The warm weather is no doubt a welcomed change for them. It really is a sad reality, however, to see just HOW MANY homeless are out there. Now that they've all come out, you realize just how significant the homeless population is. Literally, 2 out of every 5 people I walked by today (near the station) were homeless. They were everywhere.

Seeing the homeless is nothing new around the Civic Center area but I've never seen this many. It really has gotten worse this past year. I guess there just aren't enough resources for the agencies to help all of them, especially while in a recession. It was a very sad sight to see the streets lined with homeless. While I once declared on this blog that I will stop giving money to the homeless (after doing so for several years but later saw same young man drinking away), I couldn't help but give a couple dollars to an older homeless man today who was looking for food to eat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another young child riding BART alone

I've written about this once before but since becoming a mom, and also with the murder and kidnapping of Sandra Cantu, I notice even more when little kids ride on BART alone. I don't mean 8-10 year olds, I actually mean those 6 or under. I can't believe there are still little kids, who appear to be 6 or 7, riding on BART solo. A sweet old woman asked one kid whether he is heading to school, and he said yes, kindergarten. That's how I estimated his age. How can a little 6 year old be left alone to ride on BART? There are plenty of suspicious characters on BART, or actually, everywhere, and this little boy is supposed to know how to determine who is good or bad? Even if his parents have taught him to not talk to strangers, it's not a 6 year old's responsibility to protect himself in public, not fully, not yet.

Parents may need to work but no matter how busy they are, one of them should at least be responsible for transporting the child to school, or else, enroll at a closer school!

I wonder how many little kids ride alone on BART. I hope nothing bad ever happens to any of them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A touchy subject

With a new baby, most people would probably expect me to be a bit more understanding and less uncomfortable about a topic such as breastfeeding on BART. I know that mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible, whenever the baby needs it, and wherever the baby might need it at. There are plenty of accessories and trendy contraptions these days to cover the nursing mothers while in public.

So why do I still feel just a tad bit weird about seeing a woman breastfeed on BART? For one, I personally have chosen not to ever do that in a public setting. I went out of my way to schedule my son's feedings so I wouldn't ever need to do that. Also, no matter how encouraged and how natural it is to feed on-demand, the fact of the matter is, someone next to you is letting out something very private. There's just something uncomfortable about hearing the sounds and suckles of another infant, right next to you ON BART.

I asked for people's opinion on this before I decided to write about it. It's a sensitive topic for some. I can imagine La Leche League sending me emails already. The consensus seems to be, yes, most people get a little uncomfortable seeing (and hearing) a woman breastfeed in public. And on BART, it is even more uncomfortable because it is not as loud or crowded (well, depending when) as a restaurant, and you are facing each other or can easily make eye contact, unlike on an airplane where you're seated in rows and can hide near a window.

I'm not saying one shouldn't breastfeed in public...but on BART, it just feels a little too private.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Coliseum? A destination?

Saw a couple tourists today taking advantage of BART to sight see. Aside from SF downtown, I'm not sure where else you would want to go to. Anyhow, they were looking at the BART routes and realized that they needed to transfer because they looked confused. They looked around to see who they can direct their question to, and I guess I looked friendly enough.

They asked, "We want to see the Coliseum. How do we get there?" I told them they needed to transfer at MacArthur. Inside my head, I was initially wondering, why on earth would anyone pick the Coliseum as a tourist destination? Then, I realized, well, maybe they've never seen an American football stadium, or maybe they wanted to take a picture of the Raiders logo because Raiders are an international brand and people all over the world wear Raiders jerseys.

It was just interesting to me that they make a point to visit the Coliseum. Now, the Coliseum in Rome is a different story...amazing and symbolic monument. I guess some could say the same about the Oakland Coliseum.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Love Connection on BART

Funny thing happened today during my morning ride. A man and a woman exchanged phone numbers. Their shy conversation was heard by a whole section of the train. It was rather sweet actually. They first smiled. The man started out by saying, "We've been on the same schedule a lot lately, haven't we?" The woman smiled and said, "Yeah, seems like it." Then they talked about where they worked, where they lived, what their hobbies were, and the usual first "date" conversation. Finally, the man had to exit at Embarcadero and he asked for her number. They quickly exchanged business cards before the door closed. The woman was smiling to herself afterwards as she looked at the card, and exited at Powell.

Very sweet. BART connects people!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Know anyone on here?

Thanks to a couple of you who sent me this link. Very interesting approach and I've actually wanted to do this myself after seeing inconsiderate passengers who pretend to be asleep, or pretend to intensely reading or typing on their mobile devices, or just won't look up to make eye contact, when an elderly passenger or a disabled passenger walks in. I stare at them continuously and I see it when they look up and quickly take a peak to check whether the entitled passenger is still in front of them and quickly look down again. A few times I've said something. Other times, I give up my non-handicapped designated seats for those who actually need to sit.

Take a look at this website. Perhaps it's time to do the same on BART. SMILE.


Clean train today

This morning's train interior looked completely clean and freshly scrubbed. I don't think I've seen it like that in a long long time, if ever. The plastic floors did not have stains or trash, even the corners were clean and free of gum or candy wrappers. The windows looked wiped with no finger prints, smudges or stains.

I'm sure BART cleans the trains regularly but it seemed like a bit more effort went into cleaning this time around.

Whatever it is they did differently, it was a welcomed change to see a clean train.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wonderful ride today

Today's BART ride was rather quick and enjoyable mainly because I had company! My husband rode BART with me today to attend a conference in SF and having someone to chat with made all the difference. I did make sure to keep our conversation to ourselves and speak at a low volume to not bother passengers around us since I know I don't like it when people are talking loudly on the train. Besides, I'd like to keep our family matters to ourselves anyways.

I even had some extra time to grab a Venti coffee before the shuttle arrived. Then I got to work, and found out some work-related good news.

Let's hope this positive trend continues the rest of the day!