Friday, March 31, 2006

3 Important Questions Answered!

Crowded, but on-time train today..which is more than I can ask for these days. Lost a couple seat fights to other standing passengers....I shouldn't have hesitated when the seats opened up, because once I did, others took charge and planted themselves on the seats. I was merely trying to be polite, looking around for elderlies who might need the seats more than I do. Instead, a couple 20-somethings claimed the seats before I did!

If you look back on my blog entries this month, it's really been a rough March. Fires, bomb scares, delays after delays. Of course, the 24 days of rain this month doens't help timely arrivals and departures, although I can't understand how weather can affect a heavy duty transit system that is digitally controlled. For a recap of the rough month of BART incident and delays, take a look at Michael Adamick's article on Contra Costa Times:

BART has been a popular water cooler topic this month with friends and coworkers. Each of us pay a good amount of money for a roundtrip ride and cannot comprehend why it is so difficult for BART to keep the trains on-time and keep the trains clean.

I asked Mr. Adamick the top 3 questions that many BART passenger would like to know: (Thank you, Michael Adamick, for taking the time to respond!)

1. How are our BART fares appropriated? How much of it goes to employees, management, maintenance/service..etc.?
MA: Fares make up 60 percent of BART's budget, which goes into a large pot with state, federal and local tax funds. The money is then divided up between maintenance, employees, capital, etc. I'm not exactly sure of the breakdown, but employees take up a large chuck of change. There's 1,300 or so of them.

2. Are train operators trained?
MA: Yes, there is training -- extensive training. About 50 percent of bart people who try to become train operators actually fail the training and have to try again. It's apparently pretty difficult.

3. Are train operators evaluated?
MA: Yes, they are evaluated. I'm not sure how rigorously, however.


In response to #3, I really wish passengers had some say in their evaluation! Maybe there are passenger satisfaction surveys, but I personally haven't received any. I feel that BART is out of touch a little bit with passenger needs and expectations.

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