Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Another late and overly crowded train

The past 2 weeks, SF-bound trains from Pittsburg/BayPoint have been continuously late (except this Monday) and as a result, jam packed beyond maximum capacity due to the extra long lines collecting at each station with each late minute, and of course, the general overall increase in BART riders due to soaring gas prices.

This morning's train was 10 minutes late. By the time it pulled into Orinda, passengers were already literally packed like sardines. The 2 women in front of me in line chose not to go in, but I had to go to work, and so did the 8 other people waiting in back of me. The line on the platform became nonexistent as soon as people realized that the train is now boarding on a first come first served basis. Even though there appeared to be no more room for additional human bodies, we all know anything is possible...much to the dismay of those already in the train.

I squeezed myself in and found a half square foot of space to stand, right under this tall, elderly man. Because of his height, our physical proximity wasn't too awkward. Sure, our bodies were touching but at least our faces weren't a centimeter apart.

Why not just get on the next train you ask??? I would have if it's within 5 minutes away, but it was TEN MINUTES AWAY still! By the time that train comes around, it'll be another jam packed train!

To make matters worse, there were people with large luggage pieces on the train too. 3 small bodies could have used that space to ride the train!

What is going on? Mechanical problems? Train shortage? Why are commute hour trains arriving late more than on time (I count on time as within 5 minutes delay) these days?


Anonymous said...

Ridership is up. A great many of the people who worked in the mortgage industry at locations in Concord, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek now work in San Francisco. Surprisingly, many still park at their old buildings. These half-empty buildings are more than happy to get ten bucks for a parking space. People are getting creative with parking - Park and Ride lots are getting used more.

It takes a long time to pack a train. That extra minute or two adds up to a late train in only three stations!

Ridership drops in June, but picks up big time in September - usually a lot more than the previous May. So, call your board member and let her know about the crowded trains.

Long buried in old BART Short-Range-Transportation-Plans (an official document) is a scenario where the Fremont to Daly City trains turn back at 24th Street. This would free up two train sets. Yes, it would cost money to build the facilities at 24th street, but this would be cheaper and quicker than building 18 new cars.

This would make for two commuter train sets, that could make for four runs - by turning back at Montgomery. Dig up another trainset or two, by hiring more mechanics, and you'll have another couple of commuter trains. There's only room for one more train in the middle of the three-hour commute - BART can only stuff trains every five minutes. But there's space for five early commute and five late commute trains.

Currently, if a "regular" train dies - one of the trains on the other lines, that runs every 15 minutes - it often gets replaced by one of the extra commute trains from the Pittsburg line. Instead, the replacement should be one of the Fremont trains, snagged by turning back at 24th street. A tactical change that would be an overall better triage of scarce resources.

Anonymous said...

Well, the C Line (yellow, Concord) is the only line that uses "commute" trains during morning and evening commute.

Due to implementation of strategies, turning late trains from Fremont do occur at 24th Street, especially if 10 minutes late.

As for this morning, BPD wanted trains held out of Concord. This probably contributed to delays down the C Line and with the turning of commute trains at Concord.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with the BART trains is blatantly obvious…. these trains are not designed for moving people efficiently but comfortably with their plush chairs and carpeted floors. I’ve never seen other public transport (with the exception of true railway trains) with such a cushy set up. There are no baggage racks at any points on the train for luggage that takes up tons of space. Especially when there is a train dedicated to SFO. There are not enough grab bars or they are too high for many people to reach and lack the strap to hold. I’ve notice some of the refurbished trains have had seats removed to create a larger standing area, which is great. The seats need to be modified to take up less space and increase the aisle for additional standing room. Also the thin partition parallel to the first seats at the entry needs to go away so that people don’t lean against it. They need to be replaced with a single pole in the center so that passengers concentrate on the middle of the standing space not the doors. Maybe this would also help in getting people from scanning for the seat they think is reserved for them (per some code or the constitution) AND give up the seats for the elderly and/or handicap…..hold I’m may be delusional.