Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Baking in another delayed BART ride

My usual 30 minute-ride today took over 60 minutes! Apparently there was an "incident" at Balboa Park causing delays between East Bay and SF both ways. I knew something was going on as soon as I approached the Orinda platform. The line was significantly longer than usual. Luckily, I got the last seat on the train and had a new issue of US Weekly in hand to help me deal with the long ride that was about to take place. It was stop and go all the way. By 12th Street Oakland stop, there was barely any standing room left on the train. Standing passengers' computer bags kept on hitting me on the head. They were so close to my seat that I could see the pages of my magazine blowing up and down to their breathing patterns. Very gross.

I would really like to know how BART train temperature is controlled. Does the train operator have a personal fan up in the controller room or something because he/she has no idea when train temperature becomes unbearable? Why is the AC not on full force in a situation like today when the train is likely over maximum capacity, the sun is heating up, people are sweating inside, and body odors are brewing? The air coming from the BART fan felt warm and stale. Passengers were getting grumpy, shaking their heads constantly, rolling their eyes and making "tsk" sounds every time the train comes to yet another sudden stop.

The ride was long and unpleasant, to say the least. Meanwhile, the length of delay was increased with each announcement. By the time I finally got to Civic Center, I had been on the train for 65 minutes.

Luckily, I had a seat and my reading indulgence, US Weekly, to get me through the long ride. In addition to being totally engrossed in the useless celebrity gossips, the perfume samples in the magazine helped mask the sweat scents all around me.

Here's some info about today's BART incident: http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/14861329.htm


Blogger said...

I think that BART employees in general are pretty oblivious in general. I don't think they really give a sh*t either way about passengers. As long as they can't lose their job, I don't see their attitudes changing anytime soon. What I would really like to see is a rider satisfaction survey for all BART riders.

bartmusings said...

Thank you for the comment. I agree that passengers deserve the opportunity to fill out an annual survey. Otherwise, how do they know what improvements we'd like to see? Or which train operators or station agents deserve praise?
Some BART employees certainly seem like they don't care that you need assistance at the desk, or your ticket got stuck, or you are sweating or freezing to death in the train, or you can't afford to be late again! But there are a select few that seem to take their jobs very seriously- they also love to serenade you in the morning or greet you in different languages (maybe they once worked at Southwest Airlines). Some even take it so far to yell at passengers with bikes who try to sneak in during commute hours, and scold those who try to jam the doors to hold it open.

BART just started charging everyone parking- and they not too long ago raised fares. I really would like to see some of that money go into rider satisfaction surveys. The BART news that they distribute once a month at the stations....that could have been a survey!

Anonymous said...

Nope, drivers can't adjust the temperature. But, you can move to another car, or even to the other end of the same car. And, use the intercom and let the driver know. He'll call it in. Wait for a quiet area, between starions (not in a noisy tunnel), or just hand him (or her) a post-it with the car number.

bartmusings said...

Thanks for the response- good to know that they actually cannot control temperature. Thanks for your comment!

bartmusings said...

Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle pointed out that in 2004, BART adminstered a passenger survey.

I wonder how I missed that one? But good to know. I look forward to the next one.

Anonymous said...

You can submit a 'survey' every day. Get a customer comment card from a Station Agent and let management know what needs to be fixed, or which Train Operator or Station Agent is doing a good job.

They don't listen to us, but they do listen to the public...or at least pretend they do. (Comments about an employee will get them praised or reprimanded, something that would cost money to fix may not get the same attention.)

On the subject of train temperature: As was said before we have no idea there is a problem unless it is reported. Each car is individually computer controlled, and we have zero ability to monitor or change it without taking the entire train out of service. You can go from one car actually pumping out heat (despite the fact its 105 outside) to the next car with an overactive A/C running at 58 degrees. You can change cars or forsake the train entirely if it's too crowded to move to another car....but I can't. I've operated trains where it was 115 in the cab, the first car was empty, but the other nine were standing room only.

(I take that back...it wasn't completely empty, there was a nice 'ripe' transient sleeping right by the air intake vent...)

Just another day at work. (And I'm really not complaining...some days are better than others, but I do enjoy my job.)

bartmusings said...

Thanks for that feedback about temperature control.

I definitely know that there are a few BART employees that go out of their way to provide great service (though it does seem like they are the minority). I hope they get recognized because the public does appreciate them.