Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts from riding transit systems in Italy

Happy to be back at home after living in hotels the past 2 weeks. Again, barting to and back from SFO proved to be nearly effortless and more econonimcal than parking in long-term lots! I highly recommend it.

After seeing 6 cities in Italy and getting around by local transit systems and cross-cities by Trenitalia, I have made some interesting observations!

1) I loved that the Milan metro tells you inside AND outside the ticket gates exactly how many more minutes until the next train is arriving.
2) I loved that the Milan metro has large TV screens with news updates and of course, commercials, to keep you entertained.
3) I loved that the Milan metro trains come every 5 minutes (even though it's a huge system covering a huge mass of area and nearby surburbs) so you don't have to pull a muscle trying to run up the stairs to catch your train.
4) I loved how easy it was for a first-time visitor to go cross-country on Trenitalia, but I did NOT like how nasty the station and train restrooms were. Every stall was flooded with urine and other things. I need to disinfect my shoes or just throw them away!
5) I loved the small electronic buses in Florence! Very eco friendly and does not take up two lanes on the roads or block lanes like our buses do.
6) I loved how all the trains and buses, no matter which city, was on time!! Right on schedule...no delays at all.
7) I didn't like that the buses in Italy did not have many seats but in many way, that just made everyone equal...we all stand! No need to squabble over seats!
8) The trains were not necessarily cleaner than BART. Some were spotless, but others had just as many stains, old gum, trash..etc.
9) I did not like the shady vendors lining up inside and all around the outside of the stations to force their illegal products on me! I definitely felt a lot safer walking around homeless folks in BART stations (well, sometimes) than aggressive vendors and beggars.
10) I found the transit fares to be MUCH cheaper than BART!!!!! Why must I pay nearly $8 a day roundtrip here but only $2 euros roundtrip (anywhere within the system)??

and last but not least....

11) BART needs to install overhead racks to save standing room! People with big briefcases, laptop bags, shopping bags, suitcases can then toss their items on top so they don't take up too much space, and so that they can actually free their arms!

But BART rocks...despite my little complaints here and there (although many are about the civic center station specifically), I don't know what I'd do without it!


Anonymous said...

As the Chief Spokesperson for BART, I truly enjoy your BART Musings. They are very well written and well thought out.

While I don't agree with everything you say, there is a whole lot that I do agree with.

In fact, often times I take your concerns to my fellow managers, who in turn try to address your complaints. Given the limited resources we have, unfortunately we will never be able to fix every issue, but we certainly are trying - and your website puts issues that we might not hear about on our radar screen.

Lastly, thank you very kindly for your opinions, suggestions, compliments and concerns.. and most importantly, despite the good commute days and bad commute days, we truly appreciate you continuing to ride BART.

--Linton Johnson
Chief Spokesperson &
Media & Public Affairs Department Manager

bartmusings said...

Mr. Johnson,

Thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment!

My overall impression of BART is positive and unless I magically have the ability to fly, BART remains my preferred mode of transportation from East Bay to SF.

The purpose of my blog is really just for me to vent about my mishaps and share any unusual observations. I share the good, the bad, the annoying and the bizarre!

I am pleased to hear that you and other BART staffers actually take the time to read my entries- thank you!

Anonymous said...

Tickets and magnets - that situation needs to be addressed. I heard BART didn't go to higher density tickets, and the new tickets have more information on them that makes them easy to demag.

Ticket Exchange somewhere on the concord line would be nice.

Being packed like sardines during commute, is driving passengers away (i drive certain days now}

Oh and maybe suggest a sign near the machines like at Rockridge. "Use Cash or Debit" if you can. If a Credit card bought ticket gets damaged you need to mail it back to the card.. which took over a month both times..
Cash and Debit tickets can be taken to those exchange windows.

I use EZrider card now, no more problems and I get to use my CC. FastTrack for BART.. www.bart.gov/tickets look for ezrider.