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.