Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It's hard not to believe in karma. On the way home today, the train was completely packed. I got on at Civic Center so I was able to get a seat. Right across from me was a seat left empty and if you take a closer look, you'll realize why. The seat was filled with WET sunflower seed shells. The shells, some mangled with teeth marks, were all over the seat. You can tell they were sticky from the wetness. Some previous passenger with no class apparently decided to spit out shells onto that seat. Anyhow, as we past Powell and then Montgomery, people walked towards the seat, saw the scattered wet mess, and opted to stand.

At Embarcadero, one stocky man rudely pushed his way through the crowd, yelling, "out of my way, excuse me" in an impatient tone, as if other passengers owed him something. He saw the empty seat, and felt that it was his right to take it while shoving others aside. In his haste, he sat down! I would have warned anyone else but not him- he deserved it!!!

He got up at MacArthur and once again, rudely pushed his way through. I took a glance at his butt (didn't want to but wanted to get a good laugh). As expected, at least 20 dirty spit-out shells embellished his black pants.

Haha! That's what he gets for being such a rude jerk on BART.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Smooth riding in the early AM

Had to go to work extremely early today (left home around 7:15am) and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to find BART parking, how many empty seats there were despite lines at the platform, and how ontime the train was! Maybe I just got lucky but I found this morning's experience to be almost relaxing! Like BART claims their rides to be in the commercials!

Is this just luck? I doubt I'll get up early just to have an easier BART ride but it's good to know that whenever I do need to suffer from shorter sleep, BART will not give me a bigger headache!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Would you eat that?

I wasn't feeling too well during yesterday's ride home from work. I felt like throwing up, I felt light-headed, and the body odors and muskiness around me due to the heat wasn't helping at all! I was dying to chew on something sour and sweet to stop the urge to puke. Suddenly, I realized that I might actually have a green apple jolly rancher in my bag somewhere, left from a few weeks ago.

I was pretty desperate. I hate stale candy but I actually felt like I needed to have that sour taste in my mouth to get throught the BART ride.

I flipped things around in my large computer bag and finally dug out the unshapely jolly rancher candy. It was hard to unwrap- the wrapper had somehow melted onto the candy. But I didn't care, I was determined to get the wrapper off so I can eat this!

As I was nearing the final stages of taking off the last bit of plastic, the jolly rancher rolled off my fingers and onto the seat! I thought about eating it, but then images of the disgusting people who I've encountered on BART rushed through my head. Pictures of dirty clothes, dirty hands, dirty nails, coughs, sneezes..etc were overwelming my brain.

I just could not eat it. It would have been too disgusting. I ended up feeling sick the rest of the ride...but don't worry, I didn't throw up.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

At risk youth as escorts in Oakland stations? Good?

When I first read about that I was like, oh, yeah right, like that is a great way to promote safety in Oakland. Having at-risk youth helping you to your cars, cleaning up, giving you directions? Sounded to me at first, like a sure way to get an already lost passenger to be the center of a mugging plot. But then I kept on reading and I thought about it some more.

I have to admit that if properly monitored and evaluated, this would be a great way to help at risk youth become a true part of the community. For them to want to trust the community and leave a positive mark, we have to trust them too.

It's worth a try and could become something life changing for these kids. When I first heard about Delancey Street restaurant in SF, I had a negative reaction too, but who says people don't deserve a second chance?

However, I may be a bit of a hypocrite. I don't want to have escorts in ALL the BART stations. I don't think escorts are necessary in all the stations. I think at-risk youth program aside, we definitely need escorts at SFO and OAK stations for travelers. We need at-platform-level info booth at key transfer stations (or easy phone access to TOs who are willing to help) too for travelers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Broken turnstile and marijuana -- what a morning!

What a way to start the week! I was in a mad rush today trying to catch my shuttle at Civic Center station. I have my ticket ready before I approach the ticket turnstile, I have my hand ready to grab the ticket as it pops back out, and as usual, I am one step ahead before the turnstiles open up to let me through. Today, the turnstile that I've walked through at least 500 times in the past years was BROKEN. Only ONE of the two cushioned "obstacles" opened up, causing me to run my knees into the unopened one. And because I was already in walking motion, I fell!

Quickly, I tried to regain my balance, and acted like nothing happened in front of the people around me. Then, I walked up the stairs only to approach 3 men openly smoking pot. Two with joints and one with a pipe. Did marijuana become legal suddenly? They were so open and unafraid of being reprimanded by the police! They were definitely high, in a very happy zone. I smiled at them, and they asked me if I wanted some. I responded, no, thanks, gotta go to work!

Definitely not surprising to see people smoking pot around the Civic Center BART. But it was quite surprising how open they were with it! Apparently, they know that BART Police and SFPD don't seem to circle around that area much.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Peddlers on BART

I felt like I was in Tijuana yesterday afternoon! A man and his child were selling from seat to seat. The kid had a tray of random things from gum to bracelets, and the man had CDs, DVDs, fake Giant/As pins, caps and head bands in his tray for sale.

They were non-threatening so I didn't bother to get up to call the TO. It was actually kind of funny that they were doing that on the train.

I see people selling things outside of the stations but rarely inside the train. I've seen people begging or performing on trains, but not actually carrying around a selection of random trinkets in a tray and asking people to take a look.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Alcohol breath, but in the morning??

It's not uncommon to smell alcohol in people's breath on BART, especially in the late afternoons as people are coming home from happy hour or whatver.

This morning, however, at 8:15am, I sat next to a passenger, a professional, clean-cut looking middle aged man with a suit, tie and high-end briefcase, smelling like he just spent over $200 in a bar. I didn't even need to try to smell the alcochol. The drunken scent was all over. I felt like I was in a return flight from Las Vegas.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SF Bay Area ranks #11 on Rude Driver list

I would agree with that list. NYC, Boston, and LA are all MUC MUCH worse than the Bay Area in terms of rude drivers. Miami ranks first but I've only been a tourist there, transported around in buses and tour shuttles, or walking straight to the beach from my I've never actually been in the thick of traffic there to judge.

I think Bay Area has more stupid or timid drivers than rude drivers. If anything, I think people are more clueless here than rude or impatient. I see people who don't pay attention to lights, who back out of parking spaces without turning their head to see what's behind them, break for no reason, or they merge into lanes way below speed of traffic, causing everyone to brake. I

I'm probably one of the more impatient drivers around and think people drive way too slowly in non-pedestrian zones, stop way too early for a yellow light, take way too long to merge into lanes, are too scared to make a quick turn or lane change, and too often insist on following or driving under the speed limit.

Ranking high on that list might mean you're in the middle of a lot of driving hazards but it also means that people are more efficient (impatient) and you can count on the person in front of you to not waste a second during a green light. Whereas here, I have to wait 3-4 seconds sometimes for a driver to respond!

Cleveland is #19. Not surprised. My sister lives there and has gotten ticketed twice for driving over 25mph on an open, carless road!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Too smooth to be true

Is it just me or has BART been unusually on-time lately? I almost stopped myself from writing that because now that I've declared BART to be usually on-time, I might have jinxed the on-time streak and will be waiting on the platform tomorrow, then squeezing into a late and crowded train, while missing my shuttle stop at Civic Center.

Hope that's not the case. It sure has been nice to walk up the pair of stairs to read on the scrolling bulletin that the train will arrive right on schedule. I don't have to frantically and impatiently look at my watch every 2 minutes trying to estimate just how brief of a time I have between my Civic Center arrival and my companys shuttle pick-up. If I have one minute in between, I know to roll up my pants a bit, tie my hair back to prepare for a lightning speed sprint up the escalators. If I have under 30 seconds, forget it, I'll just slowly ride the escalators, get a cup of coffee at Starbucks and wait until the next shuttle stop....waste of time!

So, let's hope this on-time streak continues for all of us. If it ends tomorrow, I guess you can blame it on this blog jinx....and count that I will never write about how on-time BART is again!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Citizen Carpool Police Discussion - Part II

I talked about this a couple weeks ago-- the proposed new hotline for drivers to report carpool lane violators. There were some great comments and discussions going on since then from BART Musings visitors.

So today, I had to drive to San Jose for work. I tested just how easy or hard it will be to memorize the license plate number of a car zooming past me in the carpool lane.

I was going about 35 mph, and the solo drivers in the carpool lane were driving about 65 mph. I had about 2 seconds to glance at and memorize the license plate number while trying to pay attention to what's going on in front of me in my own jammed lane. I was able to memorize the number but it was not easy to keep track of everything around me that's going on....I can definitely see how hard it will be to have to call in right there and then and report the violator's license plate number!

Sort of a dangerous task! Harder than I thought. I think this is not a good solution. The only viable options are 1) more CHP during carpool hours, or 2) install a camera device over the carpool lanes like what they have on the bridge toll plazas and a camera snaps when someone is violating the carpool rule. Although this means there needs to be some infrared technology to sense the human body presence in the passenger seats. Might be too advanced for the state.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

BART TV and other portals

Have you guys seen BART TV? Not sure how BART is pushing these video and news clips out to the masses but for me, I just randomly came across it last month on the BART website. There are relevant BART news items that may not necessarily be on the local news. Not a bad idea, but too hard for passengers to access to rely on as an up-to-the-minute news update on BART.

MyBART is another interesting portal for BART to connect with the Bay Area community. Have you used it? I haven't. I've seen promotional snippets scrolling on the BART electronic bulletin on the platforms but haven't taken advantage of the discounts and activities. Again, the MyBART web page is not the first place I go to during weekends but it is a good start for BART. Maybe I'll start checking it out more as they fill it up with more discounts and events. Not a bad idea really!

You know what BART REALLY needs??? What BART really needs is up-to-the-second SMS alert on daily train delays. For example, I take the SF-bound train from Orinda. Sometimes my train is 5 minutes late, other times it is 8 minutes late. I would like to know BEFORE I leave my house, or even as I am driving to the station! WHY? Because if I know I have 8 extra minutes, I won't be running yellow-to-red lights, and I won't be breaking my heels running like mad from the parking lot up the escalators to the platform only to find out that my train will not be here for awhile.

When can BART launch this capability?? I don't want the BART schedule on my mobile phone- I have the schedule by memory. I want the updates to delays or an alert saying it is ontime!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A seat for two

This is really tacky. A lovey dovey couple today walked into a crowded train together. They stood through two stops, until one seat in front of them vacated. Now, in a similar situation, my husband would likely ask me to sit while he stands next to me, and if I'm tired, I'll sit, but if not, I'll continue standing with him because it's easier to carry on our conversation.

But this couple, the guy sat down immediately, with the young woman whining that she wants to sit too but refuses to sit away from him. So, instead, he tells her to sit right ON TOP of him! So there they were, doubling up on each other on top of one seat. As the train moved, this "body tower" shifted from left to right, right to left to front, completely getting in the way of the passenger seated next to them. They then pretended they were on a roller coaster ride together. They were young, 20s maybe, but not young enough to act like idiots.

It was completely ridiculous and immature. They continued to sit on top of each other over one seat until the train emptied out at Embarcadero.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sunny weather = HOT trains

What a beautiful day! It's quite refreshing to be able to wear short sleeves without shivering while waiting for the train on the platform. The comfortably warm breeze actually made me smile on a Monday morning.

Well, that is until I stepped into the train. I immediately felt the hot air, mixed with scent of seat and body odors. People were fanning with newspaper or bookmarks. Someone in my train called the train operator to turn up the AC. I couldn't quite hear the response but if the TO did anything (I'm sure he or she tried), we didn't feel the difference in train temperature.

I felt OK. I was warm and disliked the smell around me, but I wasn't sweating. Others were sweating. One woman even had sweat stains on the front of her yellow T-shirt.

Maybe the AC was broken? It was like an oven in there! I was itching to get out of the train for some fresh air...but when I finally got out at Civic Center, the first whiff of air I breathed in smelled more like urine than fresh summer air.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

580 ramp will be rebuilt within 2 months

Wow, by June 29th? That's a lot quicker than I thought. I was expecting 6 months at least. This is a great example of organizations, decision-makers and resources pulling together to get something done quickly and effectively. Here's what Caltrans spokesperson said about the time table.

We'll see what ends up happening, and if they actually meet this timeline, but for now, this time table seems extremely reasonable, even impressive. Makes me feel more confident about the state of CA being able to handle disasters in a timely fashion, when necessary.

I understand this is not close to being a true "disaster" but it's good to know that we are able to plan around a state of emergency. Whether it's a terrible earthquake (knocking on wood this second to keep it away), weather-related disaster or something worse, it is a positive that California appears to be headed towards getting an above-passing grade on this 580-80 connector meltdown setback. It would be nice to have BART back to normal capacity when people are back on the freeway.

**Quick unrelated update: Congratulations to the Warriors!! What a game, effort,and heart! Special congrats to Bruins Baron Davis and Matt Barnes! Hope the Warriors can carry this momentum and energy all the way!

Increased ridership on BART is felt!

Day by day, it has become evident that BART trains are getting more crowded. This morning, even standing room was hard to come by. I thought they were going to increase number of trains?? My train was still an 8 car train, in the thick of commute time.

Each stop we made towards SF, I also noticed that the lines at the platform were longer than usual. Rockridge and MacArthur both had lines swerving towards the stairs. That is defintely not normal.

Train conditions were much worse. More trash and paper left in the train. You see more food violators too. The trains are becoming a big mess!

Today, the train arrived 6 minutes late too- not horrible, but because I need to catch a connection shuttle, I was late!

Lastly, an unrelated note, all the luck, feng shui, and good karma (whatever works!) to the Golden State Warriors tonight! Hope they can close out the series tonight and send the Mavericks home depressed with nothing to do but pack up their lockers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Improved BART parking situation today

Well, at least in Orinda. I definitely appreciated seeing parking enforcement issuing tickets early in the morning. The immediate impact was very evident! There were a lot more spaces left in the reserved lot today at 8:10am. I saw several white envelopes as decor on several windshields. Thank you, Orinda BART, for making a visible difference in one day! (not sure if anyone there will actually read this, but just in case!)

Have you seen an improvement in parking today? Is BART parking enforcement doing their job?

Take a look at SF Chronicle's article on BART parking situation.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Take a bite! You're on camera!

In response to my rant about people who eat on BART, an anonymous reader posted a comment and created the following:

The reader writes: Here's something you can do: Take pictures of the eaters and post them on this flickr group created just for them!

BART and BART lots overly crowded today due to 80-580 freeway collapse

Day 2 morning is far worse than Day 1. My goodness!!! It was nearly impossible to find parking today, and I have a reserved parking pass! I see a bunch of idiots, possibly forced to ride BART to work due to freeway collapse, parking in the reserved lot without a sticker or a one-day pass. I hope they get ticketed! BART parking enforcement better step it up this week and ticket every violator.

I actually saw a line in front of the BART ticket machines today!! I don't think I've ever seen a long line there before.

The train, by the time it got to my station, was already packed! It is generally never the case...I may not get a seat, but I'd be the 2nd or 3rd passenger standing, not the 20th.

Allow yourself some extra time to find a parking space. Lots such as Orinda and Lafayette are filling up fast from what I heard. Even if you pay $$$ for a reserved monthly parking pass? Ha! Unless BART parking enforcement does something about all the violators, you probably won't have a space either. I had to squeeze myself in a 3/4 space today-- probably left untaken only because it was unfittable for many cars.

BART parking enforcement: Please ticket those people!