Monday, May 05, 2008

Run! It's a school field trip!

This morning, I was shocked by how crowded the Orinda BART Station entrance was. There were about 200+ high school students hanging out in front of the ticket turnstiles. As soon as I saw them, I ran as fast as I could to get through the turnstiles and up the escalators to secure a spot on the platform.

It's absolute madness! Slowly, the students started coming up to the platforms. There was NO ROOM for them all to stand. Thank goodness the train came before all of them made it up, so they, all 200+ of them, had to wait for the next train. I got onto this one safely, without 200+ extra bodies crowding with me.

It's great they are taking BART for school trips but it is a problem when they are trying to get on during busy commute hours. I can't imagine what the next train looked like!! I mean, the trains are usually already crowded at Orinda, with long lines awaiting at Rockridge and MacArthurs.

Will the teachers divide them up train by train???? I sure hope so. But even with a 10 car train, that's 20+ extra bodies per train. I may be underestimating the total count....but there were A LOT of kids there, at the very least 200.


Anonymous said...

Similar situation occurred with me on my commute home a few weeks ago. They were either foreign exchange students or required to speak French as much as they could outside of the classroom.

Regardless, they were a pain in the butt for many as they just sat in the aisles and were extremely rowdy.

Anonymous said...

I like to see big groups on BART (and they often fondly remind me of my days on large group tickets on the Swiss rail system).

That said, there are plenty of other trains--for example, Deutsche Bahn ICE commuter trains (e.g., Mannheim-Frankfurt in the morning)--where one can't get a seat and must stand or sit wherever there is space for trips of up to an hour or more. Like on BART, the way to avoid those situations is not to travel during peak commute times--quite difficult if one doesn't have a flexible work or home situation.

BART can be crowded--but perhaps a better complaint would be not "does the group have to travel now, when I want to travel," but rather "why haven't we built our transportation system to accomodate this group and the other pax when they need to travel?

In that vein, I often wonder why the Oakland Coliseum BART station was not designed for the peak crowds it was obviously going to get. Or--perhaps it did include some design features, but these were insufficient to accomodate peak-hour post-football, baseball, or basketball crowds?

It's done better elsewhere. For example, in Bern, Switzerland, by the BEA Expo, they line up tram after tram on Guisanplatz--and the trams are waiting there when the event gets out--to accomodate the many riders from the event (admittedly, for a tram system rather than regional rail). BART as a system doesn't do well to accomodate these extra services.

bartmusings said...

Anonymous #2, very insightful post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

As far as the Pittsburg line goes, it is so overcrowded, that any school group field trip just pushes it over the edge. Ten car trains are necessary, but there is a car shortage (actually a mechanic shortage). The commute trains help, and there are a few more slots in the schedule to stick them. And, if they turned a few at Lafayette, it wouldn't take any more cars, it would just use the existing ones better.

Coliseum is a crowded place, and needs a serious redesign. Side platforms can be bigger, and even a solution like Shea's (NYC) station with extended platforms for game days. This all has to fit in with the airport people mover, too.

Anonymous said...

This is why I never take BART to any A's or Warriors games anymore. There is always this HUGE Charlie Foxtrot trying to get onto the trains. At least at AT&T Park Muni does a pretty good job of queueing up lots of streetcars to haul out the throngs. BART just sticks to regular schedule.

Anonymous said...

Large groups should have to make special arrangements with BART or travel during non-commute hours only. Whatever happened to schoolbuses?