Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wonderful holidays and happy new year

Don't know about most of you but I have mandatory shut-down next week at work, meaning they take 3 days off my PTO but we don't return to work until 1/2/2008. I like that because everyone in the company stops working, whereas when I go on my own vacations, I come back to an insane amount of emails and looming deadlines.

I am looking forward to relaxing this week and doing nothing at all...well, except for spending quality time with my family and relatives who are visiting the Bay Area this holiday season.

I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your day this year to check on! It's been a fun and stimulating experience to read all of your comments.

Happy holidays, everyone! Here's to a great 2008!

Oh, one more thing, don't forget to check the new BART schedule and adjust your BART fares starting 2008! Yet another fare increase for us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No win situation

I noticed the heavy rain this morning and decided to check the news in case there were BART delays. KRON4 reported that there were delays between 15-30 minutes both ways. Whenever the schedule is off, I can't reliably catch my connecting shuttle, which could be problematic. And admittedly, part of me just did not feel like dealing with the crowded and late trains, wet umbrellas getting on my body and things, and waiting for the shuttle in the rain. So, I made the decision to drive in, fully knowing that traffic could be pretty miserable today. I braced myself for a bad drive but felt that I could at the very least "relax" in a private and clean space (my car).

The drive from home to the Bay Bridge was unexpectedly smooth! At that point, I felt for sure I made the right decision. But as I approached the toll plaza, I moved about 10 feet per minute....until after Treasure Island. It was absolutely miserable. I shook my head It took me an hour to get to work, which is probably the same amount of time it would have taken me to take BART.

Should I have taken BART? Probably. I would have saved money and gas. Oh well...stupid decision on my part but some days, I just don't feel like dealing with the crowds and little inconveniences associated with BART. Sometimes I just need a break from BART.

BTW, Don't forget to add your input to the BART Xmas Wish List!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Donate your small amount tickets this holiday season!

I know we can do this all year long but since it's the holidays, and if you've saved up all your small amount tickets throughout the year like I did, there is no better time to donate it to a non-profit organization!

I can't seem to find an easy-access list of all the charities that accept these tickets as donations (if you know of a url, let me know), but with a quick Google search, the list seems to be quite long!

I have about 40 small amount tickets saved up this year and will be sending them off to Berkeley East Bay Humane Society.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Holiday/New Year Wish List to BART

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of the year, it seems like a good time for us to think about what we need and want on BART as we head into 2008.

All year long, we've talked about many many things that we want to see changed or improved or enforced on BART. If we could send a holiday wish list, which I fully intend to send this one, what will we ask for?

Think about it for a moment and add your wishes on! I'll start.

BART, are you ready to make some improvements in 2008?

Monday, December 10, 2007

What can one say?

A big part of riding BART is the people watching, especially on days when I'm out of reading material and my work email volume is low. Last Friday evening, without a magazine and with most of the company heading for the weekend, I chose to people watch to entertain myself while I waited for the Pittsburg/Baypoint train at the Civic Center station.

I heard screaming and kids crying. I turned around and saw a young mother with 3 kids. Two of them were crying while the older kid just watched quielty. The mom yelled at them repeated to shut up. They kids (probably 3 and 5) continued to cry. Then, the mom slapped them each on the face hard and said, "I said shut up. Do you want me to smack you again?"

The 5 year old stopped and grabbed the oldest kid's hand. The 3 year old continued to scream and protest. The mom slapped him again and said, "Are you done?" He cried even louder and she slapped him yet again. I was getting uncomfortable watching this sight. She then pulled him aside, away from the other 2 kids, and grabbed his hair while telling him to behave.

I was very uncomfortable with what I witnessed, so were others around me. But what can we do? Everyone raises their kids differently and uses different methods to discipline them! I don't want to judge so quickly but her actions definitely raise many eyebrows. Does that mean she's not a good mother? I don't know. Does it mean she's abusive? I don't know. Perhaps she was just under a tremendous amount of stress that day? Maybe. With my limited observation, I can't jump to conclusions.

People see all sorts of things while riding BART but this will be hard to forget. The youngest kid finally stopped crying and they boarded the train. Perhaps it was just another day for that family? For their sake, I hope it was a one time thing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Use a leash in the city please!

This is unrelated to BART and only remotely related to the commute but I'm still upset over it so thought I should share it with you guys.

On my shuttle ride over from Civic Center to the office, I saw someone walking their dog, a cute little Jack Russell, in the busy streets. The dog was off-leash but seemed well-trained and well-behaved enough to follow the owner closely. But suddenly, the owner decides to J-walk across 8th Street (past Market), a busy street during commuting hours with buses, shuttles, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles moving about in the lanes! As the owner j-walks across 5 lanes, he seemed like he had forgotten about his dog. The poor dog was lagging behind, confused, scared, trying to follow his lead as a Muni bus was coming his way!!!

I was in shock! I was scared to death that this poor dog was going to be smashed by the bus while his owner seemed to have completely left him behind as he reached the other side of the street. I was afraid to keep my eyes open. The bus was less than 12 feet away. The light had just turned green in the previous block so vehicles are charging his way!

Amazingly, this dog dashed with all his might across the street, beating the bus and a few cars coming his way!

The owner had turned around at this point. He saw what happened and called out the dog's name as the dog dashes over to him safely. The dog looked relieved to see his owner.

I would never risk my dog's life like that. I would never j-walk when walking him, especially not in the city! I would never even consider walking my dog unleashed in the city streets because the traffic and movement is too unpredictable!

If you want to walk your dog in the city off-leash, fine, but don't j-walk, and don't put your dog in harm's way. Goodness!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Help! Can't breath.

Morning trains were delayed today, maybe because of the rain. As a result, the lines were longer, the trains were packed to the max. With the humidity, lack of fresh air, and an abundance of bodies, the air within the train was dead stale. You actually could feel that there is a shortage of air as you were inhaling. The air was heavy, or so it seemed. It was uncomfortable.....and as more people piled in, it was making me sick and dizzy.

I was lucky enough to be seated during most of the crowded ride. But that has disadvantages too since there were crowds standing next to me, exhaling on me, piling on more CO2 in front of my face.

It was just an awful ride. Way too crowded. I know the train operators try their best to discourage people from piling on but everyone wants to get in now, after a prolonged wait on the platform. They all have somewhere to go! Sometimes doors close on people-- they pry it back open! And even more people squeeze in during that lapse.

Anyway I was really happy to finally exit the train. The first thing I did when I got to street level was take a long, deep breath of fresh air, uh, well, as fresh as the Civic Station vicinity air gets...with a hint of pee.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Parking lot fight this morning

This morning, I was engaged in a little altercation over the last spot in the closer reserved lot. In Orinda, there are several reserved parking areas. One area is immediately in front of the BART station entrance (let's just call this Lot A), whereas the other (we'll call this Lot B), is about 80 footsteps away. Lot B is really not the end of the world, it's really just an extra 90 seconds of walking, but everyone covets the Lot A reserved spaces, including me!

Usually by the time I pull into the lot, there are maybe 1-2 spaces left in Lot A, on Mondays, Lot A is usually full! This morning, I pulled into Lot A because I eyed an open space from afar. I was so happy!! Wow, a closer space on a Monday! I already knew the quickest way to the space from the lot entrance and instantly pulled into the spot without hesitation. As I was about to take out my keys, I saw a SUV behind me. The driver was angry. Gesturing at me! I didn't know why she was upset as I got out of my car.

She remained parked behind me and yelled, "This is my space, I was circling around the lot, making my way over here, and you took it."

First, I had no clue she was in the lot..and why would you circle around the lot for a space when there is one right in front of you. She obviously didn't see it in time!

I responded politely, "Sorry, I didn't see you, I pretty much turned in and drove directly into the space," and gestured the short and straightforward path that I took to let her know that no circling was needed so it's her loss.

While I hoped the conversation would end there, she went on to say, "I'm in a hurry- I do not have time to look for a space. OK? I got into the lot before you did, I just happened to be on the side!"

I almost lost my cool here but said, "I'm in a hurry too and I didn't see you one way or another alright? You'd probably save some time by going directly to that lot over there instead of arguing with me. It's also reserved parking. There are plenty of spaces."

At this point, I was thinking to myself, "Oh, s*it, my car is going to get keyed for sure, what the heck did I do to myself?" but I'm not moving and I was there first.

To my surprise, she said, "Oh? This is a reserved lot? I didn't know that. Ha. Where is general parking?"

Oh my god, did I just waste my time arguing with someone who didn't even know she wasn't supposed to be there?

I pointed her to the general parking lot and she was off on her way. I almost missed the train because I wasted my time debating with someone who wasn't even entitled to park there!

She should thank me because I saved her from a $20 ticket!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cracking down on food/drink violators

Now this I did not know! I never thought that BART took food/drink violation citations very seriously but my husband told me that he heard on KRON4 News last night that BART has been cracking down on people who are caught in the act of drinking and eating on BART and the penalty is a pretty hefty amount of $215-$250! And there is in fact a hotline to report violators! (Anyone know what that is? He didn't jot it down. It would be very beneficial to post on BART Musings. It's not an 800 number but a 415 number.)

I'm really happy to hear that BART does takes this seriously. It'll keep the train much cleaner in the long run.

Also, apparently there are several stations that house coffee and food stands? As long as they are not encouraging people to bring the food/drinks on BART and they are subsidizing our fare increases, then I guess it doesn't hurt to have some convenience around BART.

Now is it a violation to eat/drink on the platforms too or just in the trains?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I look sick?

This never happened to me before. A woman who was exiting the train at MacArthur went out of her way to grab me and said, "You look sick, here, take my seat, I am leaving."

It is true that I'm feeling a bit of a cold coming but I didn't think it was visible. Do I look that awful today? Maybe she just wanted to give the seat to a female and had to come up with a reason why?

Regardless, I appreciated it. It was nice to sit down. I haven't had a seat en-route to SF for a few weeks. It's been increasingly crowded these days.

Monday, November 26, 2007

21st century transit: hopefully BART will catch on in the near future

I just returned from Belgium and Netherlands. Wonderful trip all around. And as always, whenever we're abroad, we make a point to try out the local transit systems.

The tram systems in Brussels, Brughe, and Amsterdam were so easy to use and came quite frequently. Both are equipped with electronic signs inside the trains that shows the route in progression (at least the next 3 stops) and clearly flashes the name at each stop. Some trams had flat screens showing news and ads. Some stops were equipped with interactive maps. All in all, the trains were clean, and with much fewer seats than BART, they were more optimal for extremely crowded conditions since there's ample room for standing passengers.

None of those 21st century perks are necessities, of course, but they're just nice to have to make getting around a bit easier for locals and visitors alike.

Do I want BART to upgrade the trains immediately? NO! There are plenty of other areas that need improvement so I can wait a decade (or two) before we catch on.

BTW, BART-SFO ridership definitely went up this year compared to last year!!! It's great-- it's really the easiest way. We love it. But, again, like I wrote in my previous entry, luggage space is a problem! This morning, a couple had no place to place their suitcases and ended up blocking the aisle, leaving literally 3 inches for people to squeeze through.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Off for the holidays...can BART handle the crowds?

You won't be hearing any of my rants next week since I'll be out of the country starting Monday. We'll of course be taking BART to SFO, which brings up a topic I discussed briefly in a previous post.

Last holiday season, I started noticing that trains were crowded with passengers with multiple over-sized suitcases. Sure, a good sign for BART but not so great for passengers since more often than not suitcases are taking up seats or standing room, and these non-commuter BART riders don't quite know simple BART etiquette such as not blocking the left side of the escalators with their luggage, or just please have your ticket ready at the turnstile, and if you don't, please don't leave your suitcase in front of it, blocking everyone else, while you are off buying tickets at the ticket machine!!!

Well, the main point to bring up really is luggage space. What about some overhead racks or particular trains for airport-bound riders in future trains if they are pushing BART to SFO as hard as they are??? BART train seats, as they are right now, are not built to accommodate big carry-ons.

They may not care now but I know this will increasingly become a problem. It is already! I'll leave you with that thought.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am a creature of habit

I sometimes wonder why I tend to enter the train through the same door, stand in the same area (assuming its available), sit in the same seat on the way home, exit through the same door (surprisingly not the same one I enter, I walk one door over to be closer to the escalators)?? Am I that predictable? I guess I am! Which brings me to my story today...

I had an early morning meeting today which required me to take a train about an hour earlier than usual. I was running late...I had to spring up the escalators and slip through the first door I see.

I got a seat and allowed myself to relax through the ride. When we arrived at Embarcadero, I had forgotten that I had entered through a different door (maybe I was too sleepy). By Civic Center, my stop, I still remained seated (usually, I am standing and waiting by the door), looked outside the door, and did not see the usual view that I've become accustomed to from my usual train location. Because of that, I somehow figured that oh no, it's not my stop yet, and remained seated. Suddenly, my brain woke up....I looked up and saw "CIVIC CENTER" spelled out right in front of me. I barely made it out the train!

Just a slight break in my patterns threw me off! Perhaps I was tired from the earlier schedule and not thinking with a straight head but yes, I definitely am used to my habits and patterns!

Monday, November 12, 2007

No holiday for me

It seems like companies are increasingly not giving Veteran's Day off as a company holiday. I've never had Veteran's Day off and I always saw it as a day where I get a break from the usual crowded trains. Year by year though, I've noticed that the decrease in passengers on BART on Veteran's Day is declining.

Today, the trains were definitely less crowded than usual but more crowded than last year's Veteran's Day. I was lucky enough to get the last seat on the train and was surprised that it was as full as it was. By Rockridge, there were at least 10 people standing.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Lesson learned: Don't get off a crowded train to wait for the next one!

This happened yesterday. As usual, the morning SF-bound train I was on was extremely crowded. As passengers, including me, piled into the train, the T.O. announced as he does every morning, "The next SF/Daly City bound train is just a couple minutes behind me and will be a lot less crowded than this one. Again the next SF/Daly City bound train is just a couple minutes behind this one."

Usually, no one gets off! But this time, a family of 4 who looked like they were headed to the airport and don't take BART often, decided to get off and wait for the next train. In fact, I was pretty grateful they got gave me some additional room to stand.

Well!! As soon as we got to Rockridge, the T.O. announced, "Get on to this train if you need to head to San Francisco, the next train to SF is out of service. There will not be another SF-bound train for at least 15 minutes."

I don't know what happened between Orinda and Rockridge but I couldn't help but feel bad for the airport-bound family who actually got off the train to get on another train that was supposed to arrive in 2-3 minutes! That really sucks! I would have been pissed off. I guess that is why I typically don't ever get off a crowded train even if the next one is said to be a few minutes away. I have a connecting shuttle to catch besides, I just want to get to my destination. I'll deal with over-capacity and lack of oxygen.

I sure hope they weren't running late for a flight!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Taking a seat to make someone feel better

This is a weird situation and I want to hear what you would have done in a similar scenario. The train was crowded with people standing. There was an extremely overweight woman who took about 1.25 seats, with the edge of her thighs hanging over to the empty seat next to her. People sat down for a second, and then left in favor of standing instead. This happened through 3 stops. As the train got more crowded, the overweight woman still sat alone, with her head down, looking a bit awkward with each person next to her leaving almost immediately.

I felt bad for her. It was clear that people didn't like sitting next to her. I was already seated but decided to get up, stand for awhile as if I'm leaving, and then, took the seat next to her. As I sat down, I said hi, and she whipered hi back. I was plastered next to her, but I wasn't uncomfortable.

I don't know if she cared that people didnt want to sit next to her but as more eyes stared towards her direction, I just felt like I needed to help make it less awkward.

I can be imagining all this of course! But oh made sense at the time!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Aisle seat or window seat?

A nice string to debate has formed in the comments from my previous post about whether one can straight up take an aisle seat when both are available? And what is the courtesy?

I don't impose any rules or etiquette on anyone, they can take whatever seat makes them happy. BART is truly first come first serve. Just like on Southwest Airlines, when you are in Boarding Group A, most people take the aisle seats even though it slows down the rest of the boarding process since you have to get up and down for passengers who come in later. HOWEVER...I do think people who take the aisle seat MUST get up when someone is trying to get into the window seat. And NO, just scooting your legs to the side, or crossing your legs to make room, is not good enough because I still need to crawl over you. As long as someone is willing to get up whenever the window seat is being taken or vacated, I'm fine with them taking the aisle seat.

Personally, I always slide into the window seat on BART except when sitting in one of the four-seat areas where it's not as tight for people to walk in and out of. In fact, an aisle seat in one of the quad-seat areas is generally my #1 go-to seat whenever it's open!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A host of annoying things this morning

Everyday, my train is packed now. I'm used to the crowd, it's fine, but this morning, a few people in there really got on my nerves.

Person #1:
A man flossing his teeth on the train. SICK!

Person #2:
A clueless old man taking BART to the airport. He laid his large suitcase (3 feet high) on the floor, blocking and tripping people. He looked confused, so I asked, "do you want me to help you place your luggage on the side?" He said, "don't touch my suitcase." OK....whatever you say, but you're in everyone's way!

Person #3:
A dressed up 30 something woman with a staring problem. I swear we made eye contact at least 10 times. She stared at my face, my jeans, to my shoes. I'm also 30 something and maybe she's just thinking to herself that she will never fit into my skinny jeans since she's 3 times my size. No, that's bad of me, sorry, I'm a grump today, but I really don't know why she kept on staring nonstop. I even opened my eyes wider and didn't look away when we made eye contact...gesturing "what are you looking at!" Sorry, this morning's ride made me grouchy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween.....costumes anyone?

Seems like the number of BART commuters who dress up for Halloween decreases each year! Even in the office, I see candy everywhere but fewer people cared enough to wear a costumes than the last couple of years. Some horns, some wigs, but few costumes.

It's a relief for me actually. Elaborate costumes and masks on BART and around the stations used to really scare me anyways. I didn't quite like strangers dressed up as "Jason" or vampires coming up to me to get a reaction. The more I tried to avoid them, the more they wanted to follow me.

Popular ensembles this year from what I've heard, read and seen -- Wendy's wig, Hillary masks, Bush masks with a noose, and Larry Craig with a stall.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Smart" camera upgrades to BART trains and stations

This is good news! BART trains and stations are getting updated cameras to enhance security.

While I wish new cameras will also bring about a reduction in BART petty crimes too, it is still a good thing that BART Police now have state of the art equipment to help them do their jobs and prevent the "big" disaster.

Despite signs, announcements and ads calling for passengers to report unattended packages, most people still don't. I've reported an unattended medium-sized box once. People walked by it, stared at it, tried to look inside, but no one cared to report it. I didn't call the BART Police but instead told a station agent who said she would take care of it. I had to catch my train so I didn't stay to see what happened....I'm sure it was nothing but still, felt I had to report it regardless.

But like most people, I fail to do my part sometimes too. I've seen duffle bags left on trains and just assume it's someone gym clothes and go about my business. We can all be better, but these new cameras will help!

Friday, October 26, 2007

BART misrepresented on ABC's "Women's Murder Club"

I don't think this show is going to last, but that's just my personal opinion. Last week, we decided to have a mellow Friday night of TV and came across this new show. My husband is a fan of James Patterson so he thought it warranted at least a try. It was slow and the characters were annoying, but that's besides the point. What I wanted to mention here is that the episode involved a crime scene on BART but instead showed some random "subway-like" setting that looked nothing like BART.

They should at least make some effort to replicate a BART train car. All they need is green fabric seats and green carpet. But maybe it's wise that they didn't since I don't think that the network is going to pick up a whole season's episodes. Not a good show in my opinion but I'm no TV critic. I do like Angie Harmon though and would like to see her back on TV with a good show...this is not it though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

People who block the train entrances

When there is a long line of people waiting to get onto an already crowded train, it never fails that someone in the line will stop right at the door to claim the space in front of the board connected to the handicapped seats so they can lean comfortably against it, while blocking at least 1/4 of the train entrance! Am I being descriptive enough here? You know which space I'm referring to? The two sides right in front of the door?

This person will then stretch his or her legs out while resting his/her back against the board and bust out their reading material without a care in the world. This person doesn't care that everyone else entering the train now has to walk OVER his/her legs to get on. This person doesn't look away from the magazine whenever the train approaches a station and passengers are struggling to get in and out of the train because both sides of the entry have been blocked by inconsiderate riders who must lean wide and diagonally in front of the train doors.

I believe that the only people who should take those leaning spots are those who are last coming onto a packed train with no where else to stand. These people should ALWAYS get out of the train each time people are embarking and disembarking, and return to the spot thereafter.

I've taken that leaning spot a few times but I always make a point to stop what I'm doing each time we arrive at a station, step out of the train to let people on and out, and then get back onto the train and continue standing.

This morning, with 7 people lining up to get onto the train, the first two people each took one side of the backboard leaning spots, leaving the rest of us walking gingerly onto the train with about 15 inches in between their feet.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is BART worthwhile for short distance commuters?

My husband usually drives to work. He works less than 9 miles away and depending on the traffic, his drive can range from a short 12 to a miserable 60 minutes each way. With one of our cars in the repair shop, he needed to take BART home yesterday. Even though he needed to take a shuttle to MacArthur, he still found the BART commute pleasantly short and easy compared to the usual slow drive on 24 East.

But will he continue to take BART? Probably not. Why not? I'll have to ask him for detailed reasons but I think it's because with the extra shuttle connection, it gives you little flexibility on when you can arrive and leave. It is not fun to be chasing a shuttle, or chasing a train when your shuttle is behind schedule. Additionally, you do have more personal freedom while in your car and for some, that time is when you decompress from all the stresses of work before you arrive home.

For any of you who work close by your home, would you take BART? This is a tough one. I live in Lamorinda, so if I worked in Emeryville or Walnut Creek, I may drive more than I take BART honestly. But anywhere else, probably not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Watch out for the start of flu season

I actually don't know when flu season officially begins but I noticed this morning that I'm hearing an excessive amount of deep coughs, heavy sneezes, and stuffed-up breathing. The woman next to me kept on blowing her nose and coughing into her handkerchief (why do people still use a piece of cloth to collect virus and bacteria, I really just don't know!) and being the borderline germaphobic lunatic that I am (at least I admit it!), I gave up my seat to stand somewhere that didn't seem immediately polluted.

I also noticed in my company shuttle too that many people were sick! Watch out, everyone, get your flu shots now! Flu season seem to be hitting us hard already.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why don't you just SIT ON ME while you're at it??

Some people are so bold that it is unbelievable! As usual, the train was packed with barely any standing room. One woman walks in, looks around for seats, then looks around for a good area to stand and lean back on, and reluctantly, ended up standing right next to my seat (I got lucky, someone seated in front of where I was standing exited at Rockridge, YES!). She was unhappy standing and holding on to the overhead safety bar because she had this annoyed look on her face.

The next thing I know, she leans her butt on the the side of my seat. To make matters worse, she quickly realized that was a comfortable position and decided to SIT her butt on topside of my seat cushion, completely touching my right shoulder. Her butt wasn't big but it was big enough that my poor right shoulder had to bear a little bit of the weight. I quickly looked at her and bumped her butt off with an abrupt shoulder shrug. She didn't feel the first "shrug" but with a bit more push, she certainly felt the second one as she quickly stood up.

Lucky for her, she quickly got a seat at MacArthur as 1/8 of the train exited.

Quite interesting though. All my years of taking BART, this was the first time someone actually "sat" on me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 reaches two!

While working away in Chicago last week, I forgot to mention that's two year anniversary came and past! Sharing my thoughts on this blog has been very therapeutic and truly fun. In the past 2 years, I've learned so much about BART through yours comments/emails, news, my own probing, and personal experiences. I've learned that many passengers want the same improvements made but I've also learned that I've been dead wrong with certain assumptions.

Thanks for reading and sharing your opinions. I look forward to hearing more from you whether you are writing to agree, disagree, inform, or share! Thanks again.

Rain and delays go hand in hand

Whenever it rains, I set my expectations that BART will experience some type of delay. Similar to increased accidents on the freeways when the roads are wet, it is almost consistently so that BART service slows down a bit whenever there is rain. I'm not complaining, it's fine, I've come to expected it after all these years. But why is that? Is it because the wetness makes the tracks slippery? Or is it a visibility issue and speed decreases for safety? Perhaps passengers are slower getting on and off with the rain? Maybe it's all of the above. As long as the delays are under 10 minutes, I can tolerate them every once in awhile. :)

It's nice to have some rain though after a very dry year. It also saves me from watering my plants for at least a few more days! They were starting to look very hopeless-- perhaps the rain will help.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Whatever happened to Columbus Day lighter trains?

Is it just me or has Columbus Day turned into a shopping and sales gimmick? I don't know anyone who gets Columbus Day off anymore (schools aside) and lighter traffic and BART trains have just become a myth! My train this morning was just as crowded as any other day with standing room only! Parking lot too was just as full as usual! Is it a government employee holiday only now? Do financial institutions get it off? I definitely didn't sense any passenger subtraction from the holiday.

Maybe it's just my commute time and luck. How was it for you?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Home at last

I'm finally back from my MidWest business trip. Gosh, it's so nice to be home. I realize the problem with lack of common etiquette is everywhere but one thing I don't quite understand is why people when they get in and out of their seats on the plane, must pull, grab or push the seat in front of them??

If it's for balance, grabbing the top of the cabin to secure your balance is actually a lot more effective. In my flight home, I sat in front of someone who had to get up at least 8 times during the flight. Each time, he needed to grab my seat as he got up, jerking me forward and backwards. When he got back, he needed to push my seat forward again to get himself in a sitting position. My seat wasn't even declined! I was sitting as upright as a robot. In a couple occasions he even grabbed my hair. I gave him looks (for my hair loss) but didn't say anything since I do realize that he isn't the only person on the plane that does that. It seems to be quite common with older passengers, despite size.

But without offending anyone, I just want to say that if you're older and losing your sense of balance, and cannot get out of your seat on a plane without additional support, you should try holding on to the plastic piece on top of you on the plane (a lot sturdier), or hold on to your own seat instead of the one in front of you, or just get Economy Plus or above if you need the extra room to move about.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In Chicago for work

I've been in Chicago since Sunday for work. I love Chicago. It's definitely not my first time here but I always find the city charming and full of life and and personality. Not to mention, I think the food is superb. Cubs mania is everywhere, especially right now. While I always try to check out the public transit while I travel, in order to compare it with BART, I did not have a chance to ride the L. Although judging by the way it looked, BART sure looks like a limousine. I'm sure it's quite functional so I shouldn't put it down based on its worn out exterior!

Looking forward to going home in 2 days. Of course, I took BART to SFO on Sunday, skipping right over the 49ers game traffic! I saved my husband 2 hours of driving roundtrip at least, with the terrible pre-game traffic. Yet another positive to riding BART to the airport.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Critical Mass - Good or Bad? Stay away tonight!

Maybe I'm not talking to the right people or reading the right sources but I generally never hear anything positive about Critical Mass. And from personal experience, I've found the participants to be a bunch of overly emotional, bike-righteous asses who would risk other people's safety just to push their own agenda. I'm frightened of Critical Mass. While driving, I do not want to be verbally or physically assaulted by them and I certainly don't want to accidentally bump into any of them and get sued or attacked! But they want you to bump into them because they want to have the "go ahead" to yell at you, run their bikes into your car, and throw things at you if you yell back! Now, like I said, my experiences have been limited and I'm sure there are peaceful gatherings too but to me, Critical Mass makes me think less of bicyclists than to want to help them with their agenda.

I mean, what's next? Are they going to ride through BART stations to demand that BART allow bikes during all hours?

Honestly, I think drivers make a lot of accommodations as it is for bike riders. With the cycling craze in Lamorinda, drivers often need to swerve to the opposite lane (risking head on traffic) just to make way for the groups of cyclists who seem to think it is OK to ride in the middle of a single lane road. They think they have the right of way and we need to just stay behind them patiently. It's like, DAMN IT, just stay in your bike lane in a single file OK? Don't chat, don't share water or whatever it is you need to do when you take up the entire street. I don't stop and talk to the driver next me and stop traffic....why should cyclists do it? Seriously, these cycling "enthusiasts" think that just because they wear spandex and ride a fancy bike, they own the streets. Look behind you, 10+ cars are blocked because you and your buddies are in the middle of the single lane road.

Sorry, as you can see, this is a sensitive topic. I deal with a lot of bikers and most experiences, whether with Critical Mass or cycling groups, have not been positive.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

BART ridership has definitely gone up

Is it just me or are trains just getting more and more crowded each day? Forget finding a seat, you're lucky if you find a big enough to space to stand in and have a pole to hold on to. I guess it's a good thing that people are turning their backs on cars and adopting mass transit but if this trend continues, I hope BART will increase the # of trains during commute hours even more.

Last fall, I remember that the SFO-bound train from Pittsburgh/Baypoint would have 1 empty seat to 3 standing passengers by the time it arrives in Orinda, leaving at the very least, plenty of places to stand. This fall, by the time the train arrives in Orinda, there are at least 12 standing passengers in each car.

Just an observation. I don't have solid data to back this up and it's really based on my commute hours.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The consequences of not taking BART to SFO

We went on a quick one-night trip to LA and decided that our departure and arrival times shouldn't put us in the thick of traffic going back and forth between SFO and East Bay. We figured driving will save us time since taking BART to SFO from where we live will take 70 - 75 minutes total.

The drive to SFO on Saturday morning was a breeze. Took us 35 minutes total. It totally justified not taking BART.

The way back from SFO to East Bay on Sunday evening, however, was horrendous! It was bumper and bumper from Monster Park (no home game that day as 49ers got ripped part in Pittsburgh) all the way to our destination. Drivers were impatiently cutting each other off, yet going nowhere...we almost got into a couple accidents during our drive. At that point, I certainly wished we had taken BART to and back from SFO.

I'll be traveling again this coming weekend for work and this time, I think I'll be a good girl and deal with BART. It may be 70-75 minutes but at least I'll get to relax during most of the ride.

Oh, by the way, a quick side note. I tried Virgin America for the first time-- the experience was about 100 times better than Southwest Airlines and United Shuttle. I definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Did you know one-third* of men don't wash their hands? (*Correction)

Last night, NBC11 reported a nationwide study on percentage of men and women who wash their hands after they use the bathroom. The study installed hidden cameras in selected public restrooms around the country including stadiums, bus stations, parks, office buildings...etc. The point is not to reveal any identities but to examine personal hygienes in the US.

The result was not surprising but disturbing nonetheless.

33% of men DO NOT wash their hands before exiting the bathroom.

12% of women DO NOT wash their hands before exiting the bathroom.

What a disparity between genders! And my goodness, 33% of men DO NOT wash their hands after they've used the toilets/urinals? That is sickening.

That means 1 out of 3 male hands I shake in business meetings are tainted. That means more likely than not, the safety poles on BART are also contaminated. What about the guy who hands me my latte at Starbucks? The potential is frightening.

People think I'm ridiculous for popping out my bottle of Purell on BART?? I think I am just saving myself from getting sick!

With women, I even think 12% is a bit high for this day and age. But just thinking back to my office restroom encounters, I clearly recall a few times where someone walked straight out of the stall without stopping by the sink.

Be careful whose hands you touch next!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bad morning ride

Maybe Monday brings the worst out of people? This morning's ride was miserable. Not only was the train packed at maximum standing capacity, people were completely rude and obnoxious.

First, we had no room to even stand, some young backpacker (airport bound probably) with a HUMONGOUS backpack and accompanying attachments (to the top and bottom of her 3 feet long backpack) insisted on squeezing in. Not only did SHE not fit, her backpack was blocking the door. As she turned around to fit in, her backpack kept on hitting me over and over. It didn't hurt, or else I would have told her to watch it, but still, it was annoying. Throughout the ride, her backpack not only hit me but at least 4 other passengers around her.

Worse, her phone kept on ringing. Each time it rang, she had to dig in her bag to grab it, and by doing that, she bumps someone else with her backpack.

Separately, people are completely impatient. I am polite enough to step out of the train to let people exit because I don't want to block the doors in any way. However, people literally push me out with their shoulders before I even have a chance to walk out. I already look like I am ready to hop out and make way for them, is it necessary for them to push me out of the way? Would a freakin' half second hurt them that badly? It's like, damn, I am already planning on getting out for you ok? Don't need to push me out!

Lastly, someone standing next to me kept on yawning in my face. Why don't people cover their mouth anymore?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Crimes on BART premises

Thanks to an anonymous poster who sent this to me. I guess I should consider myself pretty lucky that I've never been a victim of carjacking, beating, or mugging in BART parking lots, but apparently, it's not uncommon.

Generally, my daily BART rides are fairly uneventful where the most notable things are seeing people eat on BART, fight for seats, wear heavy perfumes, skip fares, hold up the escalators, or fumbling baby strollers...etc. One of the few times I actually raise "real" issues such as suspicious activities or crude, offensive verbal harassment within a BART station, it turned into a debate about citizens having the responsibility to report these incidents to BART police otherwise the authorities are not, and cannot be held responsible for these activities, nor can they proactively do anything to stop them because the law doesn't work that way. I still don't think that's right but I've learned a new perspective.

But what about these muggings and beating?? These hot spots for carjackings? Assuming these incidents were properly filed with BART Police, do they try to catch these offenders in action the next time they strike or do the reports just sit in a file cabinet? Is something being done to protect passengers before more crimes take place? Are there more police surveillance in those areas? Is it unreasonable (probably so) to ask BART Police to be more proactive, rather than reactive? Hey, I may be completely wrong here-- perhaps BART Police are already all over those hot spots for crimes and because of their action and presence, passengers are no longer being mugged, beaten, or carjacked. One can hope.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fare skippers

So, those of you who are BART agents, please chime in. I know this observation does not represent every station but I was pretty appalled. Three young men in their teens nonchalantly opened up the disabled entry/exit side door right by the turnstiles, and walked in. The agent seated inside the office was about 6 feet away but was looking down or just didn't care that they were walking through the side and not paying.

An older woman who had just walked through the turnstile confronted them and said, "You need to go back around and pay for a ticket." By this time, the agent did look up but didn't come out to see what this confrontation was about. Then, one of the boys said, "*hit, I know people who work for BART and they say people do this all the time and it's no a big deal."

I had to go run after my shuttle so I didn't catch the end of this. But I hoped the older woman had tapped on the ticket office window, and have the agent force them to exit and pay for a ticket.

This is not the first time I've seen or written about fare skippers. It's pretty common. Is BART doing anything to stop this? I've confronted these violators a couple times but I'm not always in a position to do so. But can't station agents watch more carefully? Or are they too busy to?

Monday, September 10, 2007

what makes me take one seat over another?

This split-second decision making process is quite interesting. Let's just say there are 3 seats open around the same area. None are designated disabled seats. All are aisle seats. What makes you pick one over the other? Something as simple as this actually takes a bit of quick thinking.

Here's what goes through my head in those 2 seconds before I must commit to a seat:

1) Does the seat have transferable stains? Does the floor have transferable stains?
2) Who is sitting next to the empty seat? Does he/she look pleasant to sit next to (or unpleasant)? Basically, if the person looks either disheveled, extremely overweight, heavy scented, rude/obnoxious, ill, unkept..etc., I try to stay away. The weight factor is usually not a huge deal unless coupled with another one of the listed characteristics.

For example, this morning, 2 aisle seats were open. I was quite happy since I felt pretty darn tired this morning and really wished to sit. One had a professionally dressed man sitting next to it, the other had an older woman who not only looked uncomfortably overweight but had just let out a scary, deep cough. Immediately, I chose to sit next to the man.

It's not prejudice for those of you who will immediately point to that. It's just a matter of personal comfort. I'm not saying people who fit those descriptions are not good people- they probably are- but I would just rather stand or not sit next to them on BART because of my own personal reasons such as allergies, being a clean freak, and having a bad day and need my personal space.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Has anyone used MyBART?

I've browsed around a few times but have never officially signed up. I've seen some interesting events that I might actually attend. I am going sign up though and share my experiences on here. Looks like it's doing a lot better than BARTtv.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I feel bad for people who sweat easily

On the ride to SF today, the train temperature was slightly on the warm side. It wasn't on the hot side at all yet, however. There was a man sitting down who was sweating profusely. He had sweat stains all over his dress shirt...on his back, armpits, and chest. He also had sweat dripping like a waterfall from all around his head. His neck was gleaming with wetness as his sweat was collecting around his collar. He leaned back on his seat -- a move I believe was intended to wipe away the sweat around his neck and head, as he moved his head slightly up and down on the seat cushion.

He wiped the dripping sweat off his face every few minutes. It wouldn't stop! Meanwhile, the sweat stains around his shirt were enlarging by the minute! The individual wet spots combined into a huge mass of wetness on his shirt.

He got up at Embarcadero, still sweating. I had been standing the entire time and usually grab a seat after the Embarcadero crowd exits, to rest my feet for 5 more minutes until my stop. But I wasn't about to take his seat! It was probably wet!

I felt bad for the guy. Everyone was looking at him. He even had sweat dripping around his nose. I know there are disorders that cause people to sweat uncontrollably. It was warm in the train but it wasn't bad at all-- everyone else was fine. I even mistakenly wore a sweater today and I felt fine. This poor guy really had a rough start to his morning.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

You tell 'em!

While standing today, I saw a perfect example of passengers speaking up and help enforce train rules. A woman in her 20s sat in the handicapped seat and pretended to be sleeping (or not, but she seemed to only be sleeping when we arrive at stations) when an elderly woman with a cane walked in. The train was packed. There wasn't barely any room to stand! It was almost too crowded to find space on a safety pole to grab on to.

The young woman had no intention of getting up whatsoever. Her eyes were opened but she kept her head down. Immediately, a man right around the area tapped her shoulder and said, "Please get up. There's someone disabled who needs to sit down."

The young woman was not happy but obliged. She pouted the rest of the way. I'm just glad someone spoke up immediately!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I miss BART

This week has been quite hectic at work and I've been asked to go to our HQ in San Jose 2 days in a row. Generally, I drive down to SJ once a week or every other week, so 2 days in a row is really testing my sanity with the miserable 680 traffic.

Yesterday, I spent about 4 hours total driving (yes, bad bartmusings, i missed spare the air day!), and today, it took me almost 2 hours (one way) to get here and I can only imagine how bad the way home will be on a Thursday evening.

I may complain about little things on BART here and there but all I need is a 58-mile drive down to San Jose to realize how lucky I have it on all the other days by taking BART to SF!

And with the triple digit heat, sitting in 5mph traffic even with AC, only makes the drive worse.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Taking music enjoyment to the extreme

I've written a couple times before about people who sing along to their iPods. It's not a big deal- I generally don't mind it, especially if it's just a phrase or two. One time, I encountered a man who sang along song after song-- he sounded terrible but it was more entertaining than annoying since he was SO into it.

Well, this morning was a little different. This woman did not have an iPod or any listening device. She was not shy in anyway as she belted out warm-up scales, and then eventually, songs! She must have been taking some type of voice lessons because she didn't sound bad at all. It was just really bizarre that someone, sitting in the middle of a crowded train, not panhandling, not homeless, who looks like she's going to school or work, would just randomly close her eyes, clutch her hands in front of her stomach, and belt out Ave Maria, Carmen, to other classical favorites.

She was LOUD to say the least. Everyone just kept turning around to look at her, but she was undeterred. Her eyes were closed most of the time, her head moving along to the music with emotions, and she just went on and on for several minutes until we reached the Transbay tube.

She didn't ask for money after she stopped- she just sat there and walked out at Powell. I didn't really mind it- it was fairly enjoyable and as someone who enjoys playing classical music on the piano, I could tell she loved the songs. It was just a little strange, but enviously daring, that she had the boldness to do that on BART!

I am far too shy to do that....although I do love karaoke!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not in the mood to deal with line-cutters

Monday mornings are just the worst. I'm tired, my mind is filled with to-do items to take care of once I get into the office, and the idea of waiting 5 more days until the weekend is simply miserable. This morning was no different except that I am even more tired than usual from a poor night's sleep.

I arrive at the platform and find myself a position where I would be the first to stand in line. As the train arrived, I noticed 3 people, same party, previously seated in one of those covered benches, started to approach me. I moved a few steps forward to "signal" to them to stand behind me since I was already in line.

But to my surprise, they started squeezing in front of me, trying to push me back. It's like I was invisible...the three of them just started encroaching my space in the front of the line.

I cannot deal with this at all, esp. not on a Monday morning. The etiquette is those who stand first in line should remain first. It doesn't matter that they might have arrived before me on the platform-- they CHOSE to SIT, and not stand, therefore, they need to get in the back of the line!

I had to tell them as politely as I could, "There's a line here," and pointed to the line behind me. By this time, there were 3 people in line, and none of us would have been happy if they cut in front of us.

They not only didn't get in back of the line-- they actually remain right next to me, crowding me even more. One of them gave me a dirty look. I knew this would be a fight for position. **ck this, I thought to way you are getting in front of me.

As soon as the train door opened, I dashed in before them while using my computer bag to block their entry...and so did the guy standing in line behind me who straight out walked in front of them. We got on in time to take the two last seats.

They need to learn the rules.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

3 lovely sights in one ride

Before I go into the "interesting" things I ran into this morning, I want to clarify that most of the time, I try to write objectively, from the standpoint of a passenger who would like to know more about how BART works or how other see the system. If I wrote that I've yet to see something happen, 99% of the time, that is followed by a statement indicating that it doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I don't write this to bash anyone, but if you take it that way, please know that 99% of the time, the entries are not meant to be accusatory. BART staff has a high profile job and it is inevitable that they will be subjected to the opinions of passengers in some way. We all recognized that there are stellar employees and as with any other profession, there are always some bad ones.

OK, the 3 very lovely things I witnessed today. Of course, I am being sarcastic about them being lovely.

1) Saw a woman in a short skirt sit directly on the train floors today with her bare legs lined against the ground. Not only was the carpet filthy, what was more inappropriate was her exposure. When she squatted to search for her book, her underwear was showing. When she sat "Indian-style", her underwear was showing. When she finally got up, her skirt was flipped up for 3 seconds, exposing her behinds, before she realized she needed to flip it down.

2) Saw another woman (or man, not sure) in thigh-high boots and extremely short and tight shorts that don't cover up the entire behind. She looked extremely masculine but that's not the point. She seemed to be struggling with the thigh-high boots (4 inch heels) and fell off the escalator as soon as she stepped on. She wasn't hurt but continued to struggle to walk with the boots.

3) Urine puddle in the car. Entire section smelled like very acidic pee. Called the TO to notify a cleaning crew and was told that previous passengers have already reported it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Assisting the blind around BART

I'm always amazed when I see blind passengers master BART, sometimes with a seeing-eye dog, sometimes without. On the most part, I'd say passengers are pretty good about giving up their seats for the blind, as they should be. I've once talked to a blind passenger who informed me that there are great programs out there that trains the blind and the disabled to master public transit systems. I was quite impressed.

However, there are times when I see blind passengers who aren't so good yet at navigating within the stations or on the trains, and I can't help but wonder whether BART owns the responsibility to escort the blind when they need assistance? These blind passengers often go towards the down escalators when they want to go up, bump into the train when they are trying to enter, or worse, walk way too close to the tracks.

Fortunately, there are always some good people around who are willing to escort a blind passenger to the platform, into the right train, and to a safe seat. Some even go as far as forgoing his ow her own train just to assist the blind. I've witnessed that and it's comforting to see there are still decent people left in this world. I've assisted the blind around stations and on the platforms whenever I see one in need but I've never actually let my own train pass just so I can wait with him/her to see him/her through safely.

But what happens when there are no good samaritans around? What happens when a blind passenger seeks assistance from people who are in the mood for a practical joke? I've witnessed that once where a bunch of high school aged kids directed the blind to face a wall. Luckily, a bunch of us re-directed him to the line and scolded these idiotic kids.

Can these blind passengers look to BART for assistance? Will station agents actually escort the blind if requested? Or can they not leave their square ticket window? I've not yet seen a BART employee escort a blind passenger in need of assistance BUT that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

Thanks to a reader who voiced his concerns for the blind BART passengers in an email. We've all seen blind passengers around BART and when one is in need, I know that most of us do jump to offer assistance, at least I'd like to believe that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Airport frustrations

Just returned from a 3-day weekend trip and the plane ride home was horrendous. I won't go into the 90 minute delay or the fact that the ground crew took more than 10 minutes to connect the gangway to the plane so passengers can de-plane, no, I won't talk about that.

I will only gripe about idiotic passengers who STILL DON'T KNOW that you need to have your boarding pass and ID in hand when you approach the security point. Despite TSA officers yelling "Please have your boarding pass and ID ready" every 3-5 minutes, and multiple signs and TV monitors that tell you to have those handy. there are still people who cluelessly tread along the endless lines for 30-45 minutes not knowing that they are about to hold up the line even more.

Finally, they reach the ID checkpoint, the TSA officer asks, "I need your passport and ID". These idiots say, "oh, really? already? now? Oh, I didn't know that", while they hopelessly search through their purses, bags, pockets, and luggage. Finally, they pull out the ticket or boarding pass only. The TSA officer says, "I also need your ID." Again, these clueless fools act surprised, "oh? you need that too?" while they take way too long to pull it out.

Meanwhile, the rest of us waits, with our boarding passes and IDs in hand, like we're supposed to. These same imbeciles are the same ones who don't know to take off their boots, even while TSA yells in front of them, "take off all shoes, including tennis shoes."

These are probably the same idiots who block the BART ticket turnstiles while searching through their bags and purses, and the same people who block the leftside of the escalators and not noticing that everyone is walking around them!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Picture of the day

Someone posted this under comments in one of my previous entries. Look at how clean this train looks! Sure, there's wear and tear on the floors but it is meticulous. I've been to Singapore and the entire city is clean. In fact, there are cameras on every major intersection monitoring citizens and you get fined (sometimes jailed) for littering, sleeping or even spitting on the streets. Not saying that's the model that we should follow but boy, that sure would make one clean country if we had to live under those strict regulations.

It can be the end of the day and this train will still look that clean because it's in Singapore. I've seen it firsthand.

Here's the picture:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Strollers on escalators-- a little too dangerous!

Now, I'm not sure about this but I thought that baby strollers are not allowed on the BART escalators? Is that the case?

Anyhow, I saw a potentially life threatening accident involving a baby stroller yesterday where the mother propped back the stroller on the rear set of wheels, with the stroller balancing on one escalator step. I've seen people do this and in most cases, the baby and parents arrive safely to the top or bottom of the escalators.

This time, however, the baby stroller lost its balance and jerked hard frontwards and skipped two steps downwards before the mom caught up to the stroller and grabbed onto it with one hand while maintaining her own balance. Luckily, the baby was fine and didn't even cry!

It's scary to imagine what could have happened if the stroller just kept on skipping downwards. I'm sure strollers are safe, hefty and will envelope the baby from the fall but still....pretty dangerous!

Just as a side note, the stroller was blocking the passing lane on the escalator too-- I was on the leftside, about 6 behind the stroller.

Are strollers allowed on BART escalators? I don't think they are, but if they are allowed, they shouldn't be for many reasons!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Turn those ringtones down please!

I am behind the latest trends. I must be because I just can't seem to get into the ringtone rage. I prefer to use a traditional "ring ring" to indicate a call and in my "younger" days, for about a year, I had a mellow electronic version of "Take me out to the ballgame". Even before ringtones took off, I've never really used the "Samba", "Bach Partita", "Marriage of Figaro", or whatever generic ringtones came with the phone. Yes, I know, I'm behind times, but call me old-fashioned, boring, or whatever, I prefer a normal ring.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love music! Anything from classical, 80s, 90s, to whatever is in these days that has a good beat. But I just don't like hearing these songs blasting on BART. My phones are either on silent/vibrate or a soft ring. I generally try to pick up immediately or just send straight to voicemail for the sake of all the passengers around me.

Ringtones are part of self-expression, so I've been told. That's fine, but hearing them blasting from left and right on a train isn't exactly pleasant. But since people paid for them, they want them world to hear the ringtones...thus, it tends to always be on the loudest volume the phone can get.

Just yesterday evening, I heard over and over:

smack that, all on the floor,
smack that, give me some more.....

The guy just won't pick it up! Not sure what was holding him back. Whoever was calling him also won't quit....Akon was blasting 3 times in a row.

It has nothing to do with the type of music. It's the volume and the inconsideration of the phone owner to let it go on and on.

This morning, the train was silent and sleepy. Suddenly, Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl woke everyone up like a loud alarm clock. The only person that DIDN'T wake up was the person who owned the phone.

Anyways, my point is, please be considerate and turn it down or at the very least, pick it up immediately. If I have to hear the whole chorus at least once, you've let it rang too long.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Idiot I am

I've never done this before in my years of taking BART, but between reading my book, feeling too tired, suffering from allergies, and having a half-functioning brain this morning, I got off at Powell station instead of Civic Center station.

In my head, I miscounted the stops since the train crossed the tube, and then with my ears plugged up and my eyes watery (from allergies), I thought I saw "Civic Center" sign at the Powell stop, and even imagined hearing "Civic Center/UN Plaza". I hurriedly shut my book and shoved it in my bag as if I am almost going to miss getting off the train. I run out as fast as I could past the train door before it closes.

Right as I turned my body towards the escalators, I realized, wait, this doesn't look like the Civic Center station. At that moment, the train departs. I then realized, WHAT AN IDIOT I AM, I GOT OFF ONE STATION TOO EARLY!

I've never done this before and can't believe I got off at Powell after getting off the same exit for many years! It ended up not being a huge deal since there are plenty of trains heading towards Daly City. I hopped on the next train, which was 2 minutes later, and had enough time to run after my connecting shuttle.

Boy, if this is a sign on how the week is going to turn out, I better drink extra coffee in the morning!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Food violator makes a mess on BART

A female passenger walks into the train today with a computer bag, backpack and a closed container of yogurt in hand. She stands up next to the safety pole, puts down her bags, grabs on to the pole with one hand, and opens up the yogurt container.

She tries to balance herself while eating the yogurt but between holding a spoon, holding the yogurt, and grabbing on to the pole, she loses her balance and tips over the yogurt. The yogurt spills on the ground and makes a thick white mess on the carpet.

I was thoroughly annoyed. I had to just say to her, "You know you're not allowed to eat in here right?" She said, "Oh really? I had no clue. I eat in here all the time." Then, I said, "No food signs are all over the train. See that sign over there?" Someone else chimed in, "Now who's going to clean up your mess?"

The woman pulls out notebook paper (guess she had nothing else) and tries to wipe up the yogurt with it. She smears it all over, but eventually does wipe it clean. She had a large rumpled mess of notebook paper drenched in yogurt in her hands as she finally walked out of the train.

I think she learned a good lesson as everyone was watching her struggle to clean up her yogurt stains for 15 minutes. I doubt she'll eat on BART again. Someone offered her some tissue paper to help absorb the mess a bit better. I have to say she did a pretty good job, possibly quicker and better than waiting for BART cleaning staff to take care of it. In the end, the carpet just looked like any other portions of the BART train floors- dry but stained. You can't even tell anything had happened.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Germs? No problem!

Most daily BART commuters are like me- you try not to touch too many things on BART: the poles, the seat handles, the escalator handles...etc. If you have to touch it, most of us wash our hands immediately once we get into the office, or if you're like me, you carry a bottle of Purell to quickly destroy the germs, and then you follow-up with a thorough rinse once you get to the office.

It always amazes me that there are some people on BART who could care less about germs. Last night, I saw a man (not homeless) lie down on the BART train floors. That wasn't the first time I've seen someone sleep on the train floors. I've also seen people flatten their bodies against the dirty carpet and use their computer bag as a pillow. This morning, I saw a group of passengers come in and just sat down on the ground in a circle. Other times, I've seen people sit down against the door, and start eating their breakfast. I've also watched people play cards while sitting on the stain-filled train carpet.

It makes me cringe to see them pasting their clothes and skin on the floors. But hey, if they're fine with it, why should I worry?

The closest I've ever come to sitting on the train floors is this one time when I was sick with a flu, nauseous, and I literally could not keep myself standing. I didn't sit on the floor but I did bend my knees so I'm squatting. I kept my head down so I wouldn't puke on anyone. I squatted for about 10 was a pretty low point in my years of BART riding. But even then, sitting down on the floor is NOT an option.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Leaning on someone's shoulders

I saw a woman sound asleep on BART today. She was in the window seat while there was a man in the aisle seat. Her head was swinging from left to right, front and back, and finally it comfortably found a resting place-- on the man's shoulder!

The woman was still asleep and looked to be quite comfortable resting her head on the man's shoulder. The man looked at her but didn't make any attempt to shake her head off, or move his shoulder a bit.

I thought maybe they were together, so it's not a big deal. Well, until the man got off at one of the downtown Oakland stations without saying goodbye. The woman woke up, didn't have a clue what she's been leaning on, and just leaned her head towards the window and continued sleeping.

I thought it was interesting because I don't think I would let a stranger lean on me. I did let a baby grab my clothes and hair once but that's because she's a baby.

I wonder what this man was thinking. It's a bit weird for him to allow a stranger to rest on his shoulder. Granted, the woman is attractive and well-dressed.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why I think there needs to be more BART police presence at Civic Center station?

I first wrote this in the comment section but decided to expand on it. BART police officers are probably very hard at work, and it's easy for the rest of us to complain their lack of presence since we don't exactly see everything they do. Even if that is true, several readers and I have mentioned multiple times that there are many things that BART police can do to help make BART a more pleasant experience. Someone asks me, "Like what?"

Thought I should cut and paste my response as a new entry. Of course, I'm speaking from my own experiences, and I just happen to go to the lovely Civic Center station daily.

I can think of different examples everyday on why we need BART police presence even for "minor"things but the one that pops out at me most is what happened to me today and many other times in the past. Right outside the Market/8th exit off Civic Center station, there are homeless people coming up to passengers exiting up the stairs or escalators, asking for money, for food, for cigarettes, or whatever. I don't mind solicitations, but it's when they are hostile that I feel unsafe. If you ignore them, they yell obscenities at you. If you say sorry, I don't have anything, they curse hell at you too. Occasionally, they spit at you. Once I've even had one point a plastic toy gun at my head closely (I wrote about this back in 2005).

I've written the BART comment site about this several times. I never saw a visible difference or noticed an increase in BART police presence around there.

A coworker and I once told a ticket agent that there's blood on the stairs and all she said was it happens all the time, what do you want me to do about it. I said, well, maybe it should be cleaned up, and I don't know, maybe someone's hurt? If anything, I was stunned by her attitude.

On my way home, I've seen a disheveled woman inviting men to 'check out' her g-string. I can go on with other examples but hopefully you get the point.

For anyone who will likely blame me and other passengers for these mishaps, please hold back your criticisms and really think about why there isn't more BART police presence at a known to be troublesome station like Civic Center/UN Plaza?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stolen car parts in BART parking lots?

I received an email from a reader about his experience. Somehow, having a car part stolen during the day at a BART station DOES NOT SURPRISE ME AT ALL! It seems like the lots can go unmonitored for quite some time. I know people whose cars had been broken into under bright daylight! Also, I was once told that you weren't allowed to put flyers on parked cars in the BART lots. REALLY? Because a few times I find myself returning to not one, not two, but three flyers left on my car. One on the right side of my windshield, one on my left, and on stuffed in the side window. I'm trying to make a point here-- it is pretty easy to "do things" at the BART parking lots. You've all seen beer bottles left there. So, it doesn't shock me that this reader sent me the email below.

Take a look. Has this happen to you? Do you know if this happens?

Dear bartmusings,
Yesterday, I was walking to my truck at El Cerrito Plaza Station and happened to take a peak under it (was overcome by a funny feeling) and guess what? thieves stole my catalytic converter! I guess the thieves extract the valuable metals (Platinum and Palladium) and sell them. I Googled around for this topic and it says that 1 Catalytic Converter can fetch $50 - $100 on the scrap market.
Based on my Google research, reports of Catalytic Converters being stolen have occurred at Orinda, El Cerrito Plaza, North Berkeley, and El Cerrito Del Norte. This phenomenon seems to have started this year.
Thieves like the 1990's Toyota Trucks and any SUV with enough ground clearance. A Catalytic Converter can be stolen in a minute or so depending on if it is welded or bolted to the tail pipe. My truck, it was bolted, so it only cost me $150 to fix, I installed it myself.
I have not gone to BART Police yet, I figured since I have only seen them 5 times in my 10 years of riding BART, that they would have little interest in knowing about this. I have never seen BART Police doing foot or other patrols in the station parking lots.
I would like to know has anyone else had this happen to them? What has anyone heard from BART Police about this?

Monday, July 30, 2007

You don't think people know that you are wearing a toupee?

I think the title says it all. Saw a man today wearing a hair piece that looked like a car-smashed bird. This hair piece was larger and wider than the top of his head and the color of the fake hair strands was a several shades lighter than his sideburns. The toupee literally looked like it was taped on with double-stick. It was tilted side ways, with the part near the back of his head. Perhaps this man had a rough day because the toupee was nearly off, slipping, barely covering his bald spot! Strands were going all directions! Not to mention how dirty the toupee looked! The strands were oily and stuck together. Really, I can't allow myself to be any gentler. He looked like a FOOL!

It's sad really. I have nothing against baldness. I think if someone is bald, they should embrace it! If they don't want to accept baldness, then they should seek a real solution-- hair transplant, Propecia, Rogaine, or maybe a professionally designed and fitted wig if nothing else works? I think this man would look so much better if he just proudly walk around with whatever real hair he has on his head.

If you're a Seinfeld fan like me, you probably recall this episode where George had this ridiculous looking toupee on and suddenly had a ton of confidence. Later, Elaine tossed his toupee on to the ground, it was smashed by pedestrians, and some homeless man picked it up to wear it. Well, this man's hairpiece looked like that (the smashed piece) but worse!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good question: Ferry vs. BART

One anonymous commenter left a message in response to my blog about reading materials.

The comment was:
When I worked in SF I used to take the Vallejo Ferry to the office. Now, I work somewhere else and take BART. Please someone tell me this: Why are people more social and conversational on the ferry, but on BART no one talks to each other, if you do talk to a stranger, then people think you are a looney!

I've never taken the ferry before but I'd like to try one day although it would be a huge inconvenience to get to the ferry station, and then in SF, to find a way to get to my office. Yet, it just seems like a more pleasant experience all around with the extra space, the water, the view..etc.

This question is a good one because it made me think....I'm not an anti-social person. I talk to people at ballgames, grocery stores, restaurants, even sometimes on the plane! But why is it that on BART, I don't want anyone or anything to bug me. And it is true, the very few that attempt to make conversations with others on BART are considered weirdos. Silence is golden on BART. People really just want to get the ride over with, get to work and get out of the crowded trains.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I lean alone

When all the seats are taken, people tend to gravitate towards one of two places as the next best thing: 1) any of the side mounts to the handicapped seats near the train doors, or 2) to the connector doors that go between the cars. While a lot of people like to lean on the handicapped side mounts even though when they do, they are blocking the entrance and exits, I personally prefer to lean on the connector doors: it's roomy, I'm not blocking anyone, and when the trains are already crowded, few people go from car to car.

However, I've been noticing that people are beginning to think the connector door is a space for TWO! It's roomy, true, but it really can only comfortably allow one passenger to lean on, not two! You can squeeze two, but it is inevitable that the arms will be touching and I don't quite like that. I've been getting a lot of unwelcomed neighbors joining me in my favorite spot, and leaning on the connector doors with me! I think it's a space invasion issue-- I don't want my arm to be touching someone else's arm, I don't want to have to squeeze all the way to the corner just to make room for two. And I don't want someone's computer bag to be hitting me with every sudden train movement.

Am I out of line here? Do you know what I'm talking about...the connector doors between cars? It's a one-passenger standing area in my opinion!

I gave in to the "devil" today

This morning just seemed so gloomy with the heavy fog that it somehow affected my mood and willingness to take BART. I just didn't feel like putting up with BART and was trying to think of any reason to drive to SF instead. I know I should take BART for many reasons: my tickets are paid for by my employer, I already pay a hefty fee for reserved parking, it's better for the environment, I'll probably be sitting in traffic if I drive to work instead, I'll have to pay toll and parking...etc. It was a definite "fight" between the "angel" and "devil" in me as I approached the BART station. The BART parking lot entrance is just 50 yards from the freeway entrance...if I skip BART today, the path leads me to 24W towards the Bay Bridge.

I gave in to the "devil" in me, telling me to enjoy the privacy of being in my car, and urging me to take a chance with traffic today.

I just need a break from BART every so often. I get like this once in awhile for whatever reason and I just don't have the patience and will power to take BART to work. I like listening to talk radio in my car, I like being able to sing out loud (although I've seen some people in BART sing aloud too), and I like being able to let out a loud yawn and stretch to relief myself.

I ended up saving 10 minutes of time by driving, but ended up spending more money on toll and parking! And now, I'll have to deal with horrendous traffic driving home!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Keep your eyes on your own reading material

On BART, I am sometimes guilty of looking over someone's shoulder to check out today's headlines or quickly glance at the title of someone's book but I DO NOT start a conversation with them and make it known that I am sharing reading material with them.

This morning, the man sitting next to me was a bit too chatty for my morning mood. I knew he was reading my US Weekly (yes, guilty pleasure, helps me get through my BART rides) magazine but I forgave him for it, I mean, people do that every so often, and I understand that the trashy headlines attract second glances!

But he didn't stop at that! He pointed and touched the picture of Eva Longoria and Tony Parker in front of the Eiffel Tower and said, "Heck of a wedding site, isn't it?"

I didn't want to be rude, so I responded with "Yes, very nice," and hoped that he would just leave it at that. But he continued, "Have you been there? It is incredible. Can you imagine getting married there? Only some people can do that."

I said, "Yes, I've been, it's nice. Didn't get married there though." I flipped the page to end the conversation there. He then said, "Have you been to the top?" I sort of pretended I didn't hear him.

Then, after 2 minutes, he saw a photo of Britney Spears looking trashed and said to me, "These young celebs are so irresponsible." I just nodded and flipped the page again to a "beach wear". Finally, the final straw came. He said, "That's an interesting article isn't it?"

AHHHHHH!!!! Leave me and my magazine alone! I don't feel like discussion every article with you!!!!

I got up, pretended I had to get off at downtown Oakland and switched to another train. I don't mean to be anti-social but I just want to read my mindless magazine and get on with my day. I do talk to people sometimes when appropriate-- like when we all have a comment about a TO's whispering, or the depressing weather. But isn't it bad enough to have someone blatantly looking over my magazine but to also comment aloud on every page?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Slowpokes blocking the ticket turnstiles

This is a pet peeve. I absolutely cannot stand it when people are not readily armed with a BART ticket in hand BEFORE they approach the ticket turnstiles. I hate it when people stand in front of it, blocking it, while digging through their purse or computer case endlessly for a ticket. They search for 5 second, and then slowly realize that oh, they don't have one, causing a long line of people waiting behind them to get through. I also cannot stand it when people don't realize in advance that their tickets do not have enough $$ value to get through the gate. Instead, they try again and again AND AGAIN, while blocking a line of passengers behind.

With BART, every second counts. If I'm delayed for 15 seconds let's say, it could cause me to miss a train. Instead of running through the doors before closing, I'd be watching the train just leaving the station.

Yes, I am impatient. I move fast through the parking lot, through the ticket turnstiles, up the stairs and into the train. I do not allow myself any step of inefficiency and expect others to do the same. 90% of daily commuters are like me. But the other 10% somehow find themselves hovering around the ticket turnstiles, ticket machines and escalators like they've never taken BART before. If they are first timers, they can be excused, but some of these folks I see daily.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In your face insult to SFPD and BART Police

This is not new. I've written about this before but it was worse and more in your face today than I've ever witnessed. A disheveled looking man was leaning against one of the BART escalators on Market Street and 8th. He was smoking a joint, no doubt about it. Puff after puff, with no anxiety, no apprehension, whatsoever. Two SFPD officers on bikes were about 10 feet away. The officers were looking around, checking the area, they even looked in this man's direction. I don't know if they saw him smoking the joint or not, but they didn't care if they did.

I understand that they have bigger crime to worry about and that smoking weed is a lesser offense, but it's almost like they allow it by not doing anything about it!

When a man is not afraid to smoke marijuana in front of the cops (within smelling distance), that tells you that law enforcement is not working in the area.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good or lame idea? BART credit card.

I don't have a well thought-out impression of this BART credit card idea just yet. I'm still thinking about it. My initial impression much did it cost to launch this program and why couldn't we just spend that on something else? My second impression was...if you only gain points by buying BART tickets with the BART credit card, it will take forever to get free BART tickets.

Take a look at Contra Costa Times' article about this new BART credit card program.

Based on Linton Johnson's statements, I believe part of BART's intention is good, but I don't know if I'd risk my credit score opening yet another credit card. Also, watch out for the interest rates!

Some people can really save from this, especially those who spend $10 a day, 5 times a week. I guess I'm lucky since my employer gives me commuter checks. I probably won't need to apply for this credit card because the money I spend from my own pocket on tickets is a small amount.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BART Bathrooms

Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle wrote an article on cleanliness of BART station bathrooms today. I've written a few times over the past couple of years on BART bathrooms (see one example here.)

BART bathrooms are worse than public park restrooms. I've used restrooms at park facilities thinking that I'd pass out from the filthiness and stench, but most of them have been cleaner than BART bathrooms. Heck, some BART bathrooms are worse than facilities I've used while traveling in more impoverished regions of the world.

I used to think the cleanliness of the BART station bathrooms has a lot to do with the demographics of the city the station is located in. But I have since learned that's not the case.

I used to live in Lafayette and being the clean freak that I am, I actually can brave going in there. The worst thing you see are a trail of water to the paper towels. You don't smell urine, you don't see graffitis, most people do flush the toilet and do their business within the bowl, there is always soap and paper towels and the trash rarely overflows. I used it twice- both times were necessities (fixing contact lenses). I'd rate it a B+.

However, now that I live in Orinda, the demographics although identical to Lafayette, I was in shock to see the bathroom to be closer to a D- than a B+. The bathroom stunk, urine poured all over the place, bowl was lined with stains and residues, sink was full of scum and leak stains, trash everywhere.....I had to hold my breath the entire time and jetted out there as fast as I could. This was a year ago, and I've never walked in there since. My only explanation to that is Orinda BART station is used by many passengers from cities off 80 freeway, accessible by San Pablo Dam Road. It's just a guess-- please don't over-analyze it and get offended.

BART commented that they clean the facilities 5 or 6 times a day? If that's the case, I don't think any of can tell. If it is so evident that 5 or 6 times a day is not enough to keep it to a C or above sanitary condition, shouldn't they have increased the cleaning schedule? I think even airport bathrooms are cleaned once an hour in some places...I've peeked a couple times at the cleaning schedule. And what exactly does BART constitute as cleaning? A thorough scrub down? Or just simply refilling the toilet paper and dumping the trash?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"You are guilty" - Part II

So based on my earlier post about the handicapped seats, I've been asked to say a little more about the 8 passengers seated in the handicapped seats. How old are they? What did they look like? Were they kids? Business professionals? Troubled youths?

Everyone envisions these 8 people differently in their minds. Well, it may surprise some of you that most of these 8 people were well dressed professionals in nice, pressed suits. The oldest one is probably about 50, a man, dressed in a fancy suit, shirt and expensive looking tie. He had his Blackberry up to his face, blocking the view immediately in front of him. He was seated closest to the standing elderly woman.

2 of the 8 looked like college or grad students, one was studying, the other was sleeping apparently. The others were all well-dressed and downtown SF bound, buried in magazines and work.

If forced to stereotype, I'd say they all appeared to be well-educated, fairly well-off people. Not that financial and educational background should have anything to do with whether someone has basic courtesy or not. It's just common sense.

I mean, seriously, we all sit at work all day, it really isn't THAT BAD to stand for a 15-30 minutes, or however long your ride is.

You know who you are, and yes, you're guilty

The handicapped seats really stir-up a lot of controversy especially in crowded trains such as this morning's. Every single one of the handicapped seats were taken by able-bodied people today. Then, a frail, elderly woman with a cane walked in. appeared to be in her 80s and was visibly having difficulty walking. I was standing in the middle of the train aisle, sandwiched between passengers, and far from the entrance where she entered. But the 8 able-bodied passengers seated in the handicapped seats by the door (2 were from the flip-down seats) did not bother to get up for her.

I started observing their behavior because I found their (lack of) action ridiculous. The elderly woman was shaking from left to right- she CANNOT stand! There were 5 females and 3 males in the 8 handicapped seats (men, I'm not picking on you guys ok?) 6 of them at one point saw the old woman from the corner of their eyes but continued to read their books, magazines, or Blackberries. They even held their reading materials over their eyes as if that justified them not seeing the poor woman. The other 2 were "sleeping" but conveniently woke up at their stop 10 minutes later.

The poor old woman didn't ask for the seats. She just stood there, holding on to dear life, swinging miserably from left to right. Standing passengers around here didn't say anything on her behalf but then again, the 8 passengers seats in the handicapped seats really should have already gotten off for her.

Finally, a man seated 3 rows away got up and helped her to his seat. The behavior of those 8 people was just insanely irresponsible. I don't know how they can live with themselves.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back to the grind, oh, and can we be a little friendlier to visitors?

Well, I'm back from my vacation and it sucks. It's tough to readjust to the work routine after a week of waking up tto only white sand beaches. It was almost depressing as I stared blankly from the train today into the unpicturesque sceneries along the stretch from 12th Street to West Oakland station, lost in the sight, with no reaction to the pushing and shoving around me. I've passed the route hundreds if not thousands of time by now, but never had it looked so depressing and run-down.

Anyway, that was this morning, and I think I've snapped out of it now. I saw a few tourists wearing Mets, Braves, and Yankees jerseys around the Civic Center BART station today. Obviously, they were visiting SF for the All Star game. They looked lost. First of all, why were they even staying near Civic Center?? Out of all the better tourist friendly places to stay in SF, why there?

These guys looked very lost and made the HUGE mistake of asking a homeless person for direction. The homeless man could not offer any advice that is understandable and frankly, the tourists were appalled by the smell around him. I could tell because I pass by him every single day. The tourists then asked a man dressed in a suit for directions, and he simply said, "Sorry, can't help you." Whenever they tried to approach someone for help, the person would purposely walk the opposite direction. This went on for about 2 minutes. No one wanted to help them.

I was waiting for the company shuttle and decided to offer my assistance. They seemed grateful to see a friendly face but unfortunately, being TERRIBLE at directions, I didn't know how to get to Fisherman's Wharf by MUNI. Gosh...I felt bad. All I could say was....oh, maybe you can go ask the concierge in the hotel right there, I'm sure they can give you a MUNI map.

I was not helpful at all but at least I was friendly. I wished them a good time at the game and enjoy SF. Though I didn't to a thing to steer them the right way, they kept on saying thank you. I cant believe people were so unwilling to help them out! We're not an unfriendly city, if anything, I think SF has the reputation of being hospitable to everyone! Come on, people, it doensn't hurt to spend 15-30 seconds to help out first-timers to our city!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pets on BART

I completely understand why BART does not allow pets onboard (assistance dogs aside). Not all pets are well behaved and not all owners are responsible. The last thing you want is to have dog poop add to the already plentiful stains on the floors and seats, or have someone's dog attack another passenger while in the train.

However, people still do bring small dogs on BART, sometimes not so small. I've seen it a few times. Little Yorkies or Chihuahuas mostly. On the most part the dogs are very well behaved aside from some occasional barking. I once even saw a little Golden Retriever puppy onboard....he was so scared and terrified of the loud sound of the train running through the tracks. I've seen people bring medium sized dogs in a crate covered by a towel.

Personally, I don't mind seeing people with their pets. Makes me happy. Keeps me entertained during my ride and distracts me from the other rude people on BART. I love animals. Dogs in particular because I'm the proud mom of the sweetest little pug in the world.

I could count so many positives to allowing dogs onboard but on the same note, I can think of a ton of negatives. Too many people just aren't the most responsible handlers of animals and it would just make BART an unpleasant experience for the rest of the passengers.

Would be nice though to take my little "king" to Embarcadero on a nice Saturday afternoon instead of battling weekend Bay Bridge traffic for an hour or more and be worn out and grouchy by the time we finally find parking!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BARTitis. Happens every summer.

BARTitis is what I call the syndrome I get every summer when traffic is lighter and I am just tired of riding on BART and putting up with the inconveniences of catching my company shuttle. BARTitis hits me hard especially when the weather is nice. The thought of being trapped inside BART, putting up with all the little big or insignificant things I complain about on this blog, just does not seem tolerable to me all of a sudden. I think of every excuse in the world to drive past the BART station and continue on the freeway.

Today, my excuse was I saw a train on the platform that was out of schedule which implies that there must be some delays going on. I decided to continue listening to my car radio, enjoy the privacy I have in my own car, breath the unscented nice clean air within my vehicle, and take a chance with traffic. Luckily, traffic was light across the Bay Bridge. I got to my office within 30 minutes. Which is about 25 minutes shorter than if I had taken BART and then the company shuttle without delays. (BART ride is actually only 30 minutes for me but the process of getting to the station, parking, and then waiting and catching my company shuttle adds to the extra time).

It was a nice change. I definitely can't do it everyday but it's nice to take a break from BART once in awhile especially during summer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

What about adding small waste bins around the trains?

We all know that there's nothing to stop people from eating and drinking beverages on BART, but can't there be something to discourage them from littering? I see people who not so slyly place their empty Starbucks cup underneath their seat, or crumble their napkins and food wrappers and leave it on the seats. Maybe BART should add small waste bins every 4 seats or whatever feasible so some of these people might actually just toss the items into the trash instead of leaving it all over the trains.

Even if 35% of the litter bugs toss trash into the bins, that is already a big improvement and might help keep the trains cleaner in the middle of the day.

I know I have drawn comparisons often between BART and transit systems in Europe, but yet again, I have to mention that trains in Europe have that, and it does make it easier for people to toss trash into the bins instead of on the floor.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BART in they asked

OK, Chronicle has this poll (today) and article about BART's future...far future. Poll had people picking specific extensions they'd like to add. There are talks of adding another Transbay Tube. Sure, that's fine, but I'll probably be long retired by then, let's hope.

What I want is more frequent trains. I dont want to wait for 15 or 20 minutes for the next train to arrive. In Europe, I'm able to just hop onto a train within 3-5 minutes, at any time. Maybe those trains were serving a smaller geography but still, that's mass transit. That's how BART should be too. It's ridiculous that at 5:30pm, while everyone is rushing home from SF to the East Bay, people have to wait 18 minutes for the next Fremont train, for example. Sure, they can transfer, but transferring doesn't shorten the trip or the wait in the end.

My ideal BART experience is getting on and off a train without waiting more than 3-5 minutes...that means in the morning, when i get home from work, to and from ball games and airports. Can BART deliver that?

Question of the Weekend

I haven't written much this week due to health reasons. I'm going to cheat a little today and write about something that isn't directly related to BART. The only correlation this has to BART is that many fans take BART to ATT Park...and I expect this weekend to be quite crowded on the trains with many big events going on in the city like the Pride Parade and the high profile Giants-Yankees game.

I was listening to KNBR today and heard an interesting question posed to listeners.

Would you rather have a team that is somewhat competitive and interesting to watch every year, or a team that wins a WS once every ten years and sort of just suck in between?

Seeing how the Giants are right now, it's easy for people to say they prefer the latter because once you have that championship, you can wait out the miserable times. I leaned at first towards saying that, but decided that no way! All these painful games we're watching now, all the years we'll need to be under .500 until we fully rebuild, and all the miseries we're feeling when we lose games by 1 run......they'll all make it that much sweeter when the SF Giants do FINALLY win a WS. If that's 5 years, or 25 years, as fans, we'll just have to patiently watch them evolve, progress, digress, decompose, and flourish again.

Easier said than done, I know. I am just as impatient and bummed out as any other Giants fan out there.

Anyhow, hopefully we'll take two from the Yankees! That's asking for a lot, but please???

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When did overweight become handicapped?

This is not a debate about weight. It's a discussion about ongoing issues related to the ambiguity of the designated seats on BART for the handicapped.

An overweight, but not overly obese woman today straight out asked me to get out of the handicapped seat for her. I'm always very conscious of who is around me- if I see a child, a pregnant women, someone with a crutch or cane, or anyone who appears to be a senior citizen, I am the first to give up my seat, wherever I am on the train, for them!

This woman was probably at least 75 pounds overweight. She was large, but she was balancing and walking just fine. I saw her walk in and contemplated giving up the seat for her, but she was young and seemed to be OK standing. I didn't want to insult her weight by asking her to sit down either!

So should I add overweight people to my list of people to give up a seat to? What if they yell at me for implying that they are overweight? I've gotten snapped at before for mistakenly giving up the seat to someone who looked older than they really are! No win situation it seems.

In this case, she asked me if she can sit down. I just said, "sure", and let her sit. She wasn't rude or anything but it was implied in her tone that she should have that seat over me. I'm fine with it, no big deal. Just thought this was worth noting on BART Musings.