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.