Monday, October 27, 2008

A quick question for train operators out there!

My sister flew in to visit me and the baby today and she told me that the train operator mumbled each station name upon arrival...she says it was inaudible and incomprehensible practically!! Luckily, she found a seat within viewing distance of a map so she counted and cross-referenced each station with the route map. She even said that 2 couples (also with luggage, coming from SFO) missed their stops because they couldn't hear the station announcements!!!!

I've written about this before, if you recall....when I ride transit systems in Europe and Asia, it's generally a loud, clear automated recording in native language and English (most of the time too, not always). But why not BART??

Also, do train operators feel that they should announce each stop loudly and clearly? Is it considered their responsibility to? It should be!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

More parking fees from BART coming-- fair?

In a crunch to balance their budget, BART has decided that one of the ways to generate extra $$ is to increase fees at 7 stations. Check out Rachel Gordon's article on SF Chronicle, if you haven't already.

It's a tough time for everyone right now, so I understand that something MUST be done. BART is also postponing refurbishment of trains, which makes very good sense at a time like this. However, isn't there something else they can do that does not involve parking fee increase? Or anything that will take more out of our shrinking wallets?

It's a boy!

Just a quick note that I delivered a week prior to due date and am now a mom of a healthy and precious baby boy!!! We are loving every second with him and enjoying new parenthood!

More to come on BARTMusings soon, including interviews with BART employee, passengers with varying needs, a train historian, and passengers with widespread international train commuting experience. These will be posted gradually during my maternity leave as well as some interesting BART related news, for example, the next post I'm about to make!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monday, 10/20, last day to register to vote!

All of you likely are already registered since it seems like our little community here on BARTMusings is pretty well-informed and involved but just in case you've been too busy to do so, or know a friend who has yet to do so, voter registration ends midnight Monday!

I've kept politics out of this blog and will continue to do so because that is not what BARTMusings is about. But I definitely encourage everyone to go vote! As for me, I'm a permanent absentee ballot voter, and have casted my vote already.

I'm now 4 days away from my due date...any day now! So please do excuse me if I suddenly stop blogging for awhile...although, I'm happy to say that I've got a couple interviews in progress :) Stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thoughts? Extending Pittsburg/Baypoint line to Antioch

BART officials held a public meeting Monday night and will hold another on Friday regarding a projected $500 million extension that would continue BART light rail service from the Pittsburg/Bay Point station to Antioch, a 10-mile extension.

I am all for it IF and ONLY IF they appropriately increase the number of trains from Pittsburg/Baypoint to SF to accommodate the expected exponential increase in ridership!! Also, build/use more trains with fewer seats and more handle bars! We will need it with all those new passengers onboard. Peak hour trains are already maximum capacity on most days-- some adjustments will definitely need to be made if this extension becomes reality!

BART newbies a good thing but also problematic

Got an email from a reader today who brings up a very good point. I've actually written about it a couple times and often think about it while riding BART. The previous wave of gas price surge, plus the trend to be green, have certainly increased BART ridership, as we all know and experienced firsthand! But how quickly do these new passengers learn to adopt some BART rules and etiquette? Based on my observations, NOT VERY QUICKLY!

They take up 2 seats with briefcase, purse and luggage, they don't know the proper way to line up, they block doors, they eat/drink (but so do BART vets), they don't prepare their ticket in advance of entry, they ride on the wrong side of the escalators...amongst many other little things. Not a huge deal most of the time but you can certainly ID who's new on BART and how's not.

The reader today had wanted to raise an important point...he/she asked for a DIRECT LINE to BART because:

i need to make a suggestion that they begin to more stringently enforce the "no bikes on escalators" rule. with increased ridership comes newbies and people who don't care. and the bart station agents are all over the place in terms of enforcing the rule.

All the BART employees out there who read this blog, can you help? We know about the contact us page on the website, but is there anything else we can do to get some rules enforced??

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A couple thoughts and 10 things I won't miss about commuting daily via BART

I am now on maternity leave and 3 weeks ahead of my due date. And while I won't be riding BART daily for awhile, I certainly will still be riding or experiencing it in some way as I will have family visiting who will likely use the system, I will also soon gear up for the BART employee/passenger interviews that I had been planning to conduct (thank you to those of you who volunteered!!), and when the time is right, I want to see what it will be like to ride BART with an infant. Wouldn't that be interesting? A whole new experience and something completely new to write about.

I thought a good way to kick off the maternity leave is to write a few top 10 lists in the next couple of weeks addressing the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly.

So 10 things I won't miss miss about BART commuting?

10) Fighting for parking spaces with another car
9) Dashing up the escalators to get to platform level only to see the train depart
8) On a particular warm day, sitting next to someone who is unlucky enough to suffer from bad body odors
7) Smelling someone's hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner, while they are chomping away
6) Being hit in the head (while seated) by a standing passenger's laptop bag while he adjusts his position and moves around his arms
5) Grabbing the last available seat only to find out that it is partially wet and you don't know why
4) Getting dirty looks and comments from airport BART riders when you nicely ask them to remove their suitcases and bags from the TWO other seats they are preoccupying
3) Train getting held up because someone pulls the door open to come in while it was closing (once the train was delayed for over 5 minutes because of this!)
2) Seeing someone spill coffee all over the floor or on other passengers when it could easily be least it didn't spill on me I guess although a couple times, it came close
and # 1 is......
1) Arriving late at Civic Center Station, dashing like mad up the escalators to try to catch the company shuttle only to get on street level and see the shuttle pass right by me!!!

That was fun! The next list will be a positive one!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Final Experiment Update

If you recall from a few months ago, I was doing a little "experiment", well, more like a social observation, where I, as a pregnant woman increasing in belly span by the week, would see if anyone gives up their seat for me.

Now at 37 weeks, I've reached my last day of work, and I am not at all surprised to report that the number of passengers offering me a seat is ZERO. I understand and have heard all the potential reasons why people do not...they don't want to assume someone is pregnant, they may not have seen you, or pregnant women are not "handicapped". True, very true, and if you read my previous entries about the "experiment", you'll know that I do not feel that I am entitled in any way and am proud to hold on tightly to the safety bars to maintain my balance at this late stage in the pregnancy.

Still, I can't help but wonder, has our society become so self-centered? All those excuses aside, many expectant BART passengers do look undoubtedly pregnant and some clearly look like they need to take a seat, and even during those moments, no one gives up a seat?? Or a frail older woman struggling to stand straight is right in front of this seated young man, and he turns around the other way and goes to sleep. How can one do that??

This is not about me, it goes way beyond that. Frankly, I'm disappointed that we've become such a selfish and uncaring society. Of course there are still considerate people out there who believe in helping others, but seems like that population in dwindling.

One thing I know for sure is that I will continue to give up my seat for anyone in need. Call me traditional, but I still believe in respecting elders and helping those more in need. And in many years from now, when my first born grows up, I will teach him the very same thing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Still in need of volunteer interviewees!!

A couple weeks ago, I made a post seeking any BART employees or passengers who don't mind being interviewed by me during my upcoming maternity leave to keep this site going and to provide everyone out there with differing perspectives on BART. We all can be educated on actual facts and diverging perceptions, yes, passengers AND employees both.

I only have received an email from one expressing his willingness (thank you again!) and perhaps have a possible 2nd through a personal acquaintance whose brother works for BART.

As I've indicated, you can certainly remain anonymous! The purpose is education, not to get anyone in trouble! Employees who want to shed some light on how BART truly works? Any passengers out there who've seen BART transform through the years?? Or any first timers willing to share their experience and evaluate BART's ease of use? Let me know!!

Thank you!