Friday, May 16, 2008

The test of heat tolerance

I'm not sure if BART is cutting back on electricity or what but the past couple of days, every train I've been on have NOT had the AC on. In the mornings, the trains have been warm, but since it's only about 70 degrees outside, the car temperature is definitely tolerable.

The afternoon/evening rides are quite the opposite, however. With the Bay Area heat wave and temperatures way above 90s and in the East Bay, 100+, BART trains with no AC are hell, to be blunt.

There have been delays in the afternoons due to shortage of trains from overheating (heard from KTVU 10pm News), and add that to peak commute hours where there are already long lines waiting at each downtown station, the trains were very hot, full of odors, beyond standing room maximum capacity, and wet with sweat.

Let me describe that in more detail for you. The moment you walked into the train, you can't breath. It is so hot and so stuffy that you need to fan yourself just to generate some air to suck in. Everyone is sweating, some more than others. I was sweating around my forehead but nowhere else, while others were soaking wet all over, some were only wet on the face and armpits, and a few lucky ones didn't sweat at all but were fanning profusely. Handlebars and overhead safety poles were also lined with sweat from being held on to by overheated passengers.

I believe it must have been at least 90 degrees inside these trains. No air coming in from ANYWHERE and to make matters worse, the train was traveling much slower than usual, with plenty of stop and go's. It was a long miserable ride.

One standing man in a suit, dress shirt and tie was so hot that his sweat was dripping from his face onto the floor, like a leaky faucet. A few drops fell on the toes of the woman sitting next to me.

I was lucky enough to be seated. I used a magazine to fan myself during the entire ride, so were most of the people around me. You absolutely needed to.

Some people who couldn't stand the heat and overcrowding had to exit the train early. Although their exit didn't loosen up any spaces since a new line of passengers awaited the train at each stop. It was awful.

Needless to say, you can smell body odors everywhere but in that condition, there were worse things to think about. I pretty much focused on getting myself through the ride by fanning an counting down the stations.


Anonymous said...

The cars are failing from the heat, and priority is given to the mechanical items, so the car can keep running. A/C takes a back burner.

Hayward shops are closed, so the cars have to be fixed at the other three yards. Fortunately, the mechanics can be moved, too, so there's no loss in the number of mechanics (but still a shortage).

Not all maintenance has to be done inside the shop building - some can be done on regular yard tracks. Unfortunately, A/C work has to be done in the shop (capturing freon, etc), and, with other work crowding the shops, A/C may take some time.

Anonymous said...

If the HVAC fails on a car it will not be pulled out of service. Sorry to say. There were the same, if not more trains running the past few days due to the heat related, way side issues that were causing problems and delays system wide. As the first contributor said, these problems really do take a back seat. Now an inverter or door problem will DEFINITELY take a train out of service.

Trains that usually go to Hayward are being sent to Richmond and Daly City.

I'll be thankful my commute hours are off peak, so there is plenty of seating and the cars 1130am & 1000pm are very comfortable. I know that is not the case for many who are butt to butt, standing, dripping wet with sweat.

This is just a taste of what is to come with the heat. Hopefully many of those way side issues that were problematic on Thursday won't rear their ugly head again to the degree they did. But everything I hear the worst is yet to come.

Jimmy Chan said...

If it smells bad, then it's just like the Paris metro.