Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Poll: BART OAK Extension

Now that the BART Board of Directors have approved to go ahead with the OAK Extension (estimated completion in 2013), time to hear your thoughts? Do you think it's a good idea? Vote now!

BART sanitizer dispenser empty!

Budget cuts or just an increasing caution amidst flu season? Perhaps it was broken? Whatever it was, the sanitizer dispenser was on empty. I don't use it often but I had forgotten my bottle of Purell and decided to try it out for the first time. To my surprise, nothing came out. Perhaps it was just put there by BART to pretend they care about H1N1? Joking. I'll be trying again before my next BART ride-- hope they will refill soon. Maybe with union contracts, they are only allowed to refill within a certain amount of time otherwise it would require overtime pay? Ha, joking again.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pick-up line of the day on BART

People generally don't chat with each other on BART, so when one strikes a conversation, my ears perk up. After all, it is my job as the writer of BART Musings to share with you all interesting things I see/hear during my commute, right??

A man, likely in his early 30s, was sort of looking at a woman, also likely in her 30s. She's cute, well-dressed and busy knitting. And because she was preoccupied with knitting, she wasn't aware that this man was totally checking her out. He sure didn't hide it. Then, there was some passenger movement in the train due to a stop at the MacArthur station, and he ended up standing next to her seat.

He then said to her, "I always thought knitting was one of the hardest things to do. How did you learn it?" She then said something about how she picked it up from friends, looked away and continued knitting. Then, he said, "Wow, that's so impressive. I'd love to see some of the things you've knitted some time."

Urgh, I felt bad for her. She said, "Oh, I don't have it with me. It's really not that hard."

The man should have taken that as a hint and just stop talking but he said, "No, it's really impressive. You look like you're really good at it too."

She smiled and looked down again. There really was nothing left for him to say after that, so he finally took the hint.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What to do with one empty seat and 8 people staring at it?

Interesting situation on the train this am. One seat opened up and there were at least 8 of us looking at it. Not that this means anything but I was the only female amongst 7+ men. No seniors, pregnant women or physically handicapped passengers in sight. 3 seconds have past and no one stepped towards the seat. Finally, I walked toward it and sat down. Then I hear two guys chuckling, "I guess she feels entitled."

What the heck?? Any of them could have taken the seat!!! I waited 3 seconds, I didn't take the seat because I'm female, I took it because if I didn't, someone new entering the train will!

I didn't yell back at them but I did turn my head and give a not so nice stare. If they wanted the seat, why don't they go then?? GEEZ!

Friday, November 20, 2009

No complaints...for now!

With reports indicating the state jobless rate at yet another record high of 12.5%, makes me think twice about complaining about BART, my shuttle mis-connections, and the worsening parking situation. At least I have a job to commute to, right?

While I shall remain appreciative that I'm not one of the 12.5% Californians that are unemployed, my temporary no complaint policy (**along with the jobless rate news, I am also about to head into a one week vacation, so I'm in an extra great mood) will likely cease after the Thanksgiving holiday, once I head back to work.

With that, I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!! We all have much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 09, 2009

New Poll: BART Parking!

I'm noticing that BART parking has become an issue even in the reserved lot! Curious what everyone else is experiencing with BART parking?

Do not hold the train doors open!!

As many commenters suggested, I really should have included this in the top 5 etiquette blog! How could I have forgotten?!?!

I don't care if your friend or wife is just running up the escalator-- when the doors need to be shut, they need to be shut!!! Some passengers just don't realize the consequences when these archaic doors get jammed! It could cause a delay up to 10 minutes when these doors need to be fixed by a technician.

Someone held open the doors this morning as it was closing to squeeze in. Luckily, the train operator was open to close/open a few times to get it working normally again. This passengers was then scolded by the T.O. over the speakers-- GOOD! Glad that he was called out like that! He got so many stares in our train car that he walked over to the next one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hey BART Newbies! Learn these rules of etiquette on BART

Daily BART commuters understand and abide by some unsaid rules on BART. It is very easy for us to spot who the newbies are. Now, don't be offended, take this lightly, you'll learn!

The past couple of days have really tested our patience, not just because of the crowds and lack of parking but also because of the disruption in etiquette and routine. There are many rules on BART but here are the top five than you must follow immediately to avoid dirty looks, curses or much worse:

1) Please keep to the RIGHT on the escalator if you choose to stand instead of walk up or down. If you feel like getting some exercise, or are in a rush, then take the left side on the escalator!

2) Whether on the right or left side of the escalator, NEVER come to a sudden halt just because you are near the end of the ride. When you suddenly put on the brakes, people in back of you will run into you, causing a domino effect. Keep walking when the escalator ends and continue walking on the floor.

3) AlWAYS have your BART ticket handy BEFORE you arrive in front of the ticket gates. Do not hold the lines but digging for your ticket in your purse, computer bag, wallet, pocket..etc.

4) Do not block the train doors when people need to enter the train. Step slightly outside of the train if you have to and let people in! The train will not leave without you. Not that close.

5) There's no need to make your way to the train door 2 minutes before your station, especially not in a crowded train. Your pushing and shoving prior to arrival make everyone around you extremely uncomfortable. There are others that will exit with you-- you will be able to get out!

I just read that the Bay Bridge will reopen by commute hours tomorrow am so newbies probably won't need to use these for awhile. Keep these handy just in case the bridge closes again (hopefully a scheduled closure, not a sudden breakdown!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BART over-crowded due to Bay Bridge shut down-- my nightmare commute today

Where do I even begin? First, the parking situation! Everyone probably purchased a one day reserved parking pass and there were no spaces left by the time I got there! Good thing I set aside some extra time to circle the vicinity and found 3/4 of a space that I managed to squeeze into. My doors have little dents already so what's one more?? Then, the dangerously crowded platform. It was chaotic. Lines were forming from all directions.

By the time the train arrived, it was already max capacity. In the specific car I was lined up in front of, all 12-15 of us managed to squeeze on. Keep in mind that Orinda is usually not that crowded! I was practically hugging the woman in front of me-- thank goodness she was clean and pleasant, and even told me that if I needed to, I can grab on to her arms or her gym bag.

Every station was packed. The train got to be ridiculously over capacity but passengers kept on rolling in. To make things worse, it was stop and go the whole way. At the 30 minute mark (typically I'd arrive at CC station in 30 minutes), we were only at 19th Street.

Infrequent BART riders got up at 19th Street Station thinking that was Embarcadero, which caused more chaos with all the unnecessary pushing and shoving.

At West Oakland, those waiting on the platform could not get on and screamed inside the train for people to clear the path for them somehow. They managed to squeeze on and sat on the ground before there was more room by the legs than up top.

Once I finally got to CC Station, I lined up for my company shuttle. One arrived and it got to max capacity before half of us got on. I had to wait for the next.

It took me about 1.5 hours to get to work today.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bay Bridge closed indefinitely..again

BART riders beware-- go the BART stations early, claim your parking space early, pack light, be ready to stand and be pushed...because it is going to a crazy commute with the Bay Bridge closed after repaired cables crashed and struck three cars! Just now (9:30pm PT) KRON4 news reports that the closure is anticipated to be 24 hours. BART and ferries are prepared to accommodate extra riders but we know it's still going to be a mad house.

This is going to be nuts! I wish I can work from home tomorrow.

Why I will get the swine flu vaccine

I've never gotten a flu vaccine in my life-- I've always been able to fight off colds and flus within a reasonable amount of time. I'm not someone who is overly wrapped up in the swine flue pandemic scare but I will likely get the swine flu vaccine because I am a daily BART commuter; I have little control of the close contact that I have with strangers; I know nothing of their whereabouts; and most importantly, if I contract the virus, I do NOT want to give it to my 1 year old knowing the deathly impact it has on kids.

A friend of mine who works in the One Market building said someone in his office has the swine flu. How many people who work at One Market take BART?? I'd imagine a very high percentage!! We'll all be exposed to the virus at some point and I'd much rather be protected, if not for myself, for my little one.

I'm not about to wear masks any time soon but am certainly more aware of passengers with bad coughs and drippy noses around me. It is alarming although most people still do not take it seriously.

Do you care much about the swine flu?

Another great use of funding by BART management.

Awarding an "energy efficiency" contract to a company run by former Black Muslim Bakery associate. Is there really no other company in the Bay Rea that offers more experience and credibility in energy to upgrade BART's energy system? Especially when the "company" has already been tied to questionable projects under public scrutiny


Monday, October 19, 2009

This is why you shouldn't drink coffee on BART

It's been weeks since I've been able to write anything. (SORRY!) First, work got a bit crazy and then, I was out of town for business. After that, I went on a long overdue vacation and finally came back to work today.

With the rain, BART was miserable. The seats and floors were wet and sticky. The stations had puddles everywhere with rain pouring down the stairs. Then you have passengers who knowingly shook their umbrella dry inside a packed train or unknowingly placed their wet umbrella right on your bag. It was an awful ride home.

On top of it all, the train smelled like old sour coffee because some passenger spilled coffee everywhere. Imagine if this is one of the carpeted old trains-- the stain would be permanent. At least this spill can be mopped up.

Can't say I missed BART while I was gone but it is better than being stuck in traffic on a stormy day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

NEW POLL: BART..and you're there??

Have you guys seen this commercials? They're hard to miss-- they're everywhere! While I think it's great that BART is encouraging non-commute use, part of me can't help but chuckle when I see those ads. Seriously though, it is very convenient to take BART from the East Bay to some places in the city but to other destinations in SF, the total cost and time each way exceeds what a drive would entail, not to mention the hassle of having no space for yourself and your things.

So, the question is...when heading to the city on weekends, is BART your first choice in transportation?

My answer is "only on a few occasions." Most of the time we choose to drive because it is just easier with a baby and all the accompanying items. We've taken BART with the baby before, and it was fine, but the long gap in train schedules, the broken elevators, the crowded conditions and the connecting bus rides once we arrive, just make the process more difficult. Timing our drive across the bridge before the peak makes driving a heck of a lot easier than taking BART.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Suspicious carry-on on BART? No problem!!

Interesting observation this morning. A man was carrying a beat up pink paper box, one of those pink boxes you get from bakeries or donut shops. This pink box was a bit ripper up, and it had duct tape all over. It also appeared to be heavier than just donuts or a cake as the man carrying it looked like he was balancing a hefty weight as he walked out of the train and up the escalators.

I know the box could be carrying a host of things, and most likely very harmless items! But, it did look a bit suspicious with the excessive amount of duct tape wrapped around the box, in all direction, and the heavily taped corners. I didn't immediately jump to the worst conclusion but I did pause for a moment to examine the box.

I saw BART police officers straight ahead. The man with the pink box walked right past them, and the officers didn't even look twice.

Obviously nothing happened with the box, otherwise, we would have heard by now, but still, as an officer, I would have at least looked carefully for a second at this out-of-ordinary carry on.

I didn't think this was a huge concern but the box did raise some eyebrows. Just glad it's nothing bad-- maybe the man was just carrying books in the box??

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bridge opens on time unexpectedly

I guess my earlier post makes no sense now. Passengers still found trains to be overcrowded, although that could just be the result of the post-Labor Day weekend normalcy marking the official end of lower ridership due to summer.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Brace yourselves

You've heard by now that the Bay Bridge will not reopen until Wednesday at 5am due to a cracked steel link. What does this mean for BART commuters? No parking spaces, longer lines getting onto trains, jam-packed cars and more probable delays due to sudden increase in ridership. BART will be running longer trains so forget the "favorite" train habit and walk all the way down to the end of start of the train if you want to be able to breath!

Bay Bridge crosses 260,000 vehicles a day. With a sudden extended shutdown, I'm guessing tomorrow will be a bit chaotic. Friday was to problem at all since most people worked from home or took the day off. Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be a different story.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sighting of the day

I saw a car with a green bumper sticker with white font that said, "My son just beat up your honor student."

I know people joke about those honor student bumper stickers but to actually display a bumper sticker that denotes violence...hmmm, not sure if it's just humor or if it's just plain inappropriate. I tend to think the latter.

Monday, August 31, 2009

85% says that BART does not care enough about customer service

My "non-representative" and "un-scientific" poll has closed. Just want to call that out since I've gotten comments and emails about how these poll results cannot be used as supporting data. It is simply a survey for the BARTMusings readers-- I'm not claiming that it is an AP poll by any means!!

Now, the topic at hand. 85% voted that BART does not care enough about customer service, and a surprising 14% (a bit higher than I expected, although not so surprising as many BART employees do visit this blog) voted that BART does care enough.

What I plan to do is post this survey a year from now and see if BART has made any improvements. You have a year, BART, to make us think differently.

"Out of my way!"

Saw an annoying man today who rolled people over with his 2 suitcases just to scramble to the vacated seat at the opposite end of the train. As soon as a woman vacated her seat, this man literally yelled, "Excuse me, make way, excuse me," while rolling his suitcase over several standing passengers, just to claim that seat. While he was standing earlier, he was sighing nonstop as if he was exasperated by his circumstances on BART. He is definitely a BART newbie and just had this look on his face that screams, "I do not belong here!"

I was looking at the same seat but once I saw that he started gunning for it in such a desperate fashion, I was like, "hey, it's all yours!"

What a fool. Go take a cab then if you can't take standing on BART.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting territorial at the Civic Center station

There seems to be an increase in station performers these days. Today, a female guitarist/singer with a dog got upset at 2 younger guitarists for getting too close to her "zone". In the short conversation that I overheard, she was saying that there are some rules around here and that they need to find another area in the opposite of the station because she is typically here on Wednesdays while Joe (?) is here on Thursdays.

Interesting. Her dog must have sensed her frustration and loudly barked at the "intruders". She said to them, "he is telling you to leave". The 2 young guitarists gave her a look and went looking for another corner to occupy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Union to vote again! OT policy on the table!

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 will be voting on the newly proposed agreement from BART which includes reduced overtime, limited forced layoffs, and higher health benefits premium for workers. Although union president Jesse Hunt believes this proposal will be ratified by members, I can't imagine train operators and station agents easily giving up their cushy overtime pay!

We'll see what comes of this vote and what exactly was part of the negotiated agreement.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hand sanitizers on trains

I know this will never happen and I certainly don't want it to happen at OUR expense since we all know by now that it would likely require 3 BART employees to install each hand sanitizer dispenser, and upon mid-way through installation, they'll need to take a break, or something like that.

But as I was riding BART to work, holding the overhead bars, I was just thinking, wouldn't it be nice if they provided sanitizers onboard, next to the doors? Grocery stores and convenience stores do it now and in most cases, I can't imagine that it would add a ton of expenses, but knowing BART's inefficiency and inability to keep a balanced budget, I don't see this happening, nor do I want to suffer the consequences of it happening.

I've written about the sanitizer they have on select platforms now. I wonder how much that costed us??

Anyhow, I carry my own bottle of Purell anyways but having sanitizers readily available could do us all some good.

Then again...the people who need it most, probably are those who won't use it anyways.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The life of a BART janitor

The same salary report reveals that BART janitors earn $96,000 average a year. I wonder how their workload is divided and if a station (or train) is ever thoroughly cleaned? I saw the same rotten food stain at the Market/8th entrance of the Civic Center station 2 days in a row.

That is just one example. I see many a spills, half full alcohol bottles..etc not cleaned up in a timely fashion. Maybe they feel that just putting a yellow signage over the spillage or trash is good enough?

On the lighter side-- Love Connection Update

Back in April, I wrote about a man and a woman exchanging phone numbers on BART. A very sweet story actually.

Today, I actually saw them again! And from what I can gather, they are a couple! They sat together and gave each other a peck when one exited first.

If this works out, I bet he'll propose on BART too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pro-union or pro-management? What about pro-riders???

A few commenters have shared that is pro-ATU and has been deleting anti-ATU comments? I haven't followed it closely enough recently to confirm whether that's true, but multiple people have chimed in about it. Some suggest that somehow ownership has changed and it is now run by BART union members?

Regardless what is the truth behind this, it is a shame that riders' comments have been censored and deleted. That's really too bad-- from what I remembered, BARTrage was a brutally honest open forum for riders to vent about anything! In fact, readers have asked me why I don't make the same format. I think of this blog as an e-editorial. I share my views and enjoy receiving feedback from everyone, whether they are positive or negative. In fact, some of the things I've written about are ideas and observations from riders.

I'm not pro-union or anti-union. Nor am I pro- or anti-management. My personal goal is to simply write about issues, serious, light or plain silly ones, that riders deal with on a daily basis.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

BART labor agreement reached but riders still lose long term

Although the strike is averted, this drawn out and very public dispute between BART management and employees have only divulged the ugliest, greediest and most dysfunctional side of the transit system that all of us depend on.

We ride BART mainly because we have to, to earn our livelihood. We pay nearly $10 a day to cross the Bay with arrival as our only expectation. We've come to not expect any comfort, timeliness, helpfulness or cleanliness. The bottom line is...riders will continue to lose. Fares will increase yet again and again to compensate for unjustified deficits.

While BART operations will carry on as usual tomorrow, I, and many others, now feel an increased bitterness that these BART employees who put minimal effort into their jobs, who will continue to deliver the minimal, will earn double the average Bay Area salary at our expense.

Thank you, BART, for opening our eyes and showing what type of organization this is.

Friday, August 14, 2009

AMU BART employee responds to BART strike backlash...

"The next time the 350 ton BART train gets you there safely, remember you thought the train operator wasn't worth his salary." (Quote taken from CBS5)

How self righteous and out of line!!! Isn't it their job to get us there safely? Should they win a medal for it? Should they be recognized too for announcing the right stations at the right time, and open doors upon arrival?

Oh, excuse me, sir, I'm so very sorry, I owe my life (and my BART fares and taxes!!) to you so you can make double the average Bay Area salary.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BART strike Sunday

Train operators and station agents are going on strike this Sunday. The good news for us is that they are probably the most easily replaceable bunch! Ha! (go ahead, send me your hate mails!)

Start recruiting and training new employees now! Show them that their inflexibility and greed will lead to no good. Good luck to them finding another job that will allow them to take longer breaks than work hours and rack up excessive overtime pay!

New Survey Question-- Do you support the pending BART strike?

Amalgamated Transit Union has rejected BART's latest offer and threatens to strike, vote and let us know how you feel about it?

Union rejects offer, BART strike looming again

Amalgamated Transit Union rejected management's latest offer and threatens to strike as soon as Friday.

I'm really about to lose my self censorship and professionalism here. What is the point of "negotiations" if no compromise has been made? The unions cannot expect one side to concede completely. This is ridiculous! How self-righteous can they be????

Two other unions agreed to the latest offer. Is there anyway for BART to replace the workers of the ATU? Is there a contingency plan?

Like I've said before, with some proper training and similar background, these workers are 100% replaceable.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Always there to help

If you've read my blog before, you'd know to read the subject heading with a sarcastic tone.

An acquaintance who is not a frequent BART user decided to take BART to a conference. He walks through the ticket gate with his ticket and realizes that he left something in the car. He asks the ticket agent if he can slip out to get something without having to repay. The ticket agent says there are sign that indicate no re-entry so there's nothing she can do.

The acquaintance asks again and the agent points to the sign and ignores him. In the end, the acquaintance exits and repays.

Now, we know there are rules and people need to follow them. But what makes this hard to accept is the fact that many suspicious characters, from homeless, to family of 4, bikers, friends of agents and performers slip through the side gate with or without the ticket agents' knowledge on an hourly basis and nothing is done about it. Yet, a paying customer who isn't a frequent BART rider, who asks to be excused, cannot???

I've seen exceptions made knowingly before so it is obvious that they have the authority to do that but they choose not to for this particular person. Why the double standard???

And of course, these ticket agents are just so useful and helpful when questions are directed at them. (not!) I've been given the pointing index finger before too to signs and maps. It's as if they can't speak??? I've also seen tourists been given the same attitude. That is a sure way to attract tourists to SF!

I'd like to see these ticket agents put in a bit more effort and enthusiasm into their job! We all know that they are well paid!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Should have just taken BART today

If there was ever a day that I have to describe as a huge mess, today would be it! I had an early morning call which I took from home, and then seeing that there was no traffic across the Bay Bridge, I decided to drive instead. I wanted to be able to enjoy my freshly brewed cup of coffee and listen to some sports news.

While there truly was no traffic across the bridge, just about everything else went wrong. I didn't realize that the fuel light (Prius) was already flashing until I got on the freeway. There wasn't an easy detour for me to get gas so I took a chance and just went on driving. I made it across the bridge and to a gas station but the stress I felt wasn't worth it. At this gas station located in a crime ridden and homeless populated area, I quickly found out that we can't pay at the pump and must go inside. As soon as I went to the cashier, 3 homeless that looked like they were high and drunk (can smell the alcohol) waited for me by my car. With my wallet and key in hand, they asked me to spare a few dollars (yes, not even change, but asked for a few dollars!) and cigarettes. I nicely said no again and again. I couldn't just go into my car because they pretty much blocked my door. Finally, I decided to go to the cashier again and pretend i was shopping for gum. Eventually, the homeless left and I snuck back into my car.

I parked my car in the work parking lot and stepped out with my bag and coffee. My shoelaces were undone and I tripped and spilled my beverage. As I bend down to tie my laces, my iPhone flips out of my bag and suffers more damages.

I arrive at my desk and turn on my computer. It was frozen of course and I cannot get it to restart.

To make a long story short, a big mess of a day so far. Hope the rest will be much better.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

BART ridership drops

SF Chronicle reports that BART blames the recession for the 9% drop in ridership from May to June.

The recession and layoffs definitely had something to do with it but summer schedules, lighter summer traffic, vacations, and increased fares all likely led to the decline in ridership as well.

It's nice to actually get parking space and a seat now. Don't fret, BART, ridership will pick up in late-August and be back to normal in September. I'm not looking forward to crowded, standing room only trains but that's just reality. For now, I'll enjoy the lighter trains and having the option to drive occasionally to SF with the breezier traffic.

Friday, July 31, 2009

BART Agreement Reached!

At least we know there will not be strikes. I wonder what concessions the unions had agreed to exactly? We'll find out soon, I'm sure.

The repercussions of this drawn-out negotiation process are the negative impressions of BART, the employees and unions left on the passengers. I am not the only one who now feels even more so that BART care little about passengers and that employees don't have much regard for passenger satisfaction.

This situation shed a lot of negative light on BART employees and management.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Will the BART talks end today?

In this case and at this point in the negotiations, I can't agree more with Linton Johnson's statement:

"The riders are already paying more, management has done its part by making painful cuts. It's time for the unions to step up to the plate."

There are more than plenty of people who would be willing to take on the jobs of the union members at a lower salary and slightly reduced benefits. Union members need to realize that their roles are replaceable. With some training, a new class of employees can take over their jobs and offer more energy and enthusiasm in most cases.

I just love those comments from BART employees about how BART system would fall apart without them!! I can't think of too many jobs that cannot be filled by someone with similar skills and the proper additional training. BART employees are well paid-- I'm not saying they don't deserve it, but at this point in time, in this economy, this very situation with the deficit and with passengers already paying higher fares, it really is time for the union members to be a little more flexible.

End this contract talks today.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fat salaries and irresponsible spending

Pasting below an article from SFGate on irresponsible BART management spending. This is absolutely irresponsible. Time for us BART passengers to consider carpool or AC Transit.

Source: SFGate, KTVU, Aileen Yoo

Over the past several weeks, amid BART contract negotiations and fears of a strike, much of the attention has focused on union salaries. Now, KTVU turns the spotlight on BART management in a report that not only examines costs for meals and traveling, but also reveals a method of record-keeping from the Dark Ages. Receipts for transit agency travel and dining expenses are apparently kept in cardboard boxes and stored at a warehouse. KTVU sorted through thousands of receipts, arranged them onto a spreadsheet and found that between Jan. 1, 2000 and December 31, 2008, taxpayer and rider dollars funded pricey restaurants, trips in the U.S. and around the world, and even rooms at Bay Area hotels. Over that nine-year period, management spent a total of $35,000 on dining and more than $2 mil on travel, according to records.

KTVU also highlighted the following costs:

*Meal for 10 managers at one of the most expensive steakhouses: $2,700

* Room at the San Francisco Westin "for staff to change into outfits for [the Gay Pride] parade" last year: $295.43

*Water at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco: $81

What that Gay Pride garb was exactly and how these costs stack up against other organizations, the report doesn't say. But you can check out PDFs of spreadsheets that list expenses by travel destinations, the biggest spenders and other categories.

Meanwhile, the agency says it's "bleeding money" and projects a $310 mil deficit over the next four years. As for the labor dispute, BART's three largest unions recently rejected an offer. They and BART have until July 30 to reach an agreement.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Survey question updated

I realized overnight that the question was way too black or white. It is now worded as "Does BART care enough about passenger satisfaction?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How much do BART Employees make?

BART Police Officer: $135,464 including overtime **Go ahead, walk thru the gates w/o fare, I won't cite you

Train Operator: $120,122 including overtime **Huh? What station are we at?

Customer Service: $110,958 including overtime **What customer service?

Elevator Worker: $110,275 including overtime **Takes 2 weeks to fix an elevator and it breaks again in a week

Cash Handling Foreworker: $108,629 including overtime

Facility Maintenance Supervisor: 107,617 including overtime **Did they skip Civic Center in their maintenance efforts?

And the BART GM who has led BART into a budget deficit: $334,857

Full database of BART Employee Salaries from the CC Times.

Source: CC Times

New Survey Question: Do you believe BART cares about passenger satisfaction?

I'll tell you how I voted: No. They say they do but when it comes down to it, passengers considerations rank very low on their priorities based on their action and votes.

Rude people everywhere today

Where should I even begin? First, as I walked from the parking lot towards the platform, a women stops her car in the middle of the street to drop someone off, almost running me over along the way. Even worse, she stopped yet again 5 feet down to call back the dropped off passenger to chat some more leaving a string of cars waiting behind her.

The second rude incident was inside the train. I nicely said, excuse me, thanks, as I squeezed myself to a window seat. The man on the aisle seat was shaking his head, sighing again and again and looking annoyed when I said excuse me, as if he owned the 2 seater. He had an iced coffee and kept on slurping it over and over even when nothing was left. And I'm the annoying one??

Then, saw a similar situation not too far from me where the aisle passenger made a huge deal about the window passenger needing to exit at 12th street. NOTE: If you want to take the aisle seat, then be prepared to make room for people to enter or exit the row!!! URGH!

Something must be in the air because I saw 2 homeless people fighting over a portable cart. The screaming match was ugly.

I left my iPhone at home today and had no magazines with me. I had plenty of time to observe behavior!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

While the BART unions reject the contract, let's talk about something else for the moment

I don't quite believe the current poll results from the first survey question on whether people give up their seat to the deserving while seated in the disabled designated seats. Based on the survey, a whopping 97% of us graciously give up our seats?? Hmm...based on daily observations throughout the many years as a BART commuter, I would have to say it seems more like 50% of us do and the other 50% pretends to be asleep or intensely engrossed in their reading material or device. Or maybe it's because those who actually care to read BART Musings tend to be the ones who know the difference between right and wrong?

As for the 2nd question on whether BART should enforce the no food/drink rule? I've been told by readers that this is a poorly worded, trick question. They would like BART to keep the no food/drinks rule only if they actually choose to enforce it. Right now, the rule exists but BART doesn't care enough to enforce it by issuing warnings or fines to those who choose to bring in their meals and beverages. BART lets it happen and as a result, more people feel that it's OK to bring in a coffee and bagel, or at times, pizza and beer on the weekends.

The survey closes in 2 days. Get your vote in!

As for the negotiations, Amalgamated Transit Union member unanimously rejected the contract and Service Employees International Union is expected to do the same today.

So much for progress. This will likely drag on until end of summer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hearse racing down 680

I have meetings in SJ today so I drove down instead of taking BART to SF. On my way down 680, I saw a hearse driving at 85+ mph. It was even weaving in and out of lanes to continue at its fast speed. I'm certain it was "unoccupied" but even so, it was a bit weird seeing a hearse cruising at such a fast speed.

I was behind the hearse for quite some time. It was in the fast lane and at times going nearly 90 mph, definitely faster than I can keep up. Maybe it was late picking up a coffin at a funeral home? Sure seemed like the driver was in a huge rush to get somewhere!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Clock is ticking..BARTcontract expires midnight

If there is no agreement, we at least have 72 hours notice before workers go on strike. Start thinking of commute alternatives but let's hope this gets resolved before the deadline.

Oakland Airport Connector Hot Button in BART Talks

I had just written about how much I disliked the AirBART-- mostly because of the terrible experiences I've had waiting and dealing with the unsafe surroundings. Again, maybe I've just seen the worst of it. I will always prefer to drive to OAK from Orinda unless there is a major pile-up on 880 or Caldecott Tunnel.

Personally, I don't feel the need for direct BART access to OAK. It would be GREAT to have, like the SFO connector, but when it comes down to it, is it necessary for me? No. But perhaps passengers living in Dublin, Concord, Pittsburg, and especially those at the other end of 80 freeway in El Cerrito, might find it very helpful as it will help them skip the major traffic pain points.

I've been very negative about the Coliseum BART station but let's focus on the positive for a moment. There is no easier way to get to an A's or Raiders game. I only wish it was that easy to go to a Giants and 49ers game. The MUNI connection going to AT&T Park is not terrible but it is a cluster ****.

Will a BART OAK extension increase ridership? I can't say but I sure hope BART has done their research and are certain that this is a project worth pursuing.

Friday, July 03, 2009

BART Unions Facts and Figures

Some of you may have seen already and are aware of the figures. I've had a chance to read through it tonight and found a few facts disturbing but not surprising.

We've all heard by now that the average salary and benefits for union members is $114,466 for FY 09 and $116,237 in FY 10; more than double the average salary of a passenger. But have you seen the nearly ridiculous labor rules?

Now, it is my personal opinion that unions contributed to the downfall of the American auto industry, at least that is what I've come to believe after reading numerous news articles and case studies. Hence, I have to admit that I've never been a fan of unions but understand and respect (not necessarily agree with) what they seek to accomplish.

Take a look at these rules below (excerpts taken from They are similar to other union labor rules...inflexible but serve to (over)protect members. My goodness-- no wonder the train, stations, lots are in such poor shape. No wonder an escalator does not get fixed for days! No wonder certain critical elevators don't operate regularly!! Meanwhile, we actually thought our email complaints will make a difference in the quality of customer service?? What was I thinking? Sure, this website is managed by BART and not the unions but these facts and figures are validated. If someone from the unions would like to dispute these facts or publicize figures around BART management, please feel free to do so! We want and NEED to hear both sides.

Here are some rules:

Changing a Seat at BART – Not So Simple

Last year, BART installed new seats in 205 train cars as part of a major upgrade of the interior amenities of our system. While we hope the changes are a comfort to our riders, they may be surprised to know that it takes two employees at BART to change out a seat cushion and backing under current contract rules.

The contract allows a utility worker to unfasten the snaps that hold a seat cushion in place. But the two screws fastening a seat back can only be touched by a journeyman mechanic. BART changed some 26,000 seat cushions last year. As a result, we think it would be more efficient if one employee was authorized to service the entire portion of a seat. It would result in freeing up mechanics to perform more important, skilled work.

Paperless Pay Stubs Now Back To Paper:

In an effort to save money and reduce the amount of paper BART uses, we moved to an electronic pay stub format for employees two years ago. Most of our employees use direct deposit and under a new system they could access their pay stub information via secure computer login. In recent months, the Amalgamated Transit Union filed a grievance over the paperless system and an arbitrator has upheld the protest – meaning BART will now have to go back to paper pay stubs.

Station Maintenance – Walk the Line

Perhaps nowhere are work rules more arbitrary than when it comes to the “drip line” rule regarding maintenance at BART stations. Under this rule, one classification of worker – a patio worker — is allowed to clean the outdoor areas of a station up to the station’s drip line, essentially a rain gutter. Another type of BART employee – a System Service worker – has authority to clean only the interior spaces of a station.

This two-tier maintenance system leads to the irregular or partial cleaning of stations and is exacerbated by the fact that patio workers work only Monday through Friday while System Service workers are assigned to shifts seven days a week.

Beneficial Past Practices No Longer Benefiting BART:

A major reason that BART’s contract is stuck firmly in the past is the concept of “beneficial past practices” – a principle that has helped strengthen workers’ rights and protections but at BART has been manipulated to preserve outdated work rules.

Over the years, a series of arbitration rulings has allowed the unions to keep wasteful contract provisions. If BART operated in a certain way in the 1970s, the concept of beneficial past practices dictates that we must continue to do so today. This is no way for any business to survive and endure in today’s challenging economy.

Beneficial past practices impede our efficiency as a transit agency in a variety of ways. For example, BART is required to allow a certain number of employees to work on holidays at the rate of double time and a half. The number of holiday shifts is not tied to any particular need for staffing on any individual holiday. Instead, it is pegged to an average of workers operating on holiday shifts from the late 1980s.

Similarly, BART is required to staff certain facilities and certain operations units at levels dating from decades ago whether they are needed or not in 2009.

Building a Better Contract:

BART believes that many of the contract rules benefit workers and make our agency a safe and convenient transit option for riders. But clearly there are work rules now decades old that no longer make sense and serve only to limit efficiency and flexibility when they are needed now more than ever in our system.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Now that the contract negotiations have been extended for 9 more days, the potential strike day is now July 13. Most of the passengers I've spoken with feel indifferent at this stage. Everyone is ready to either bear with the traffic or telecommute. Some have even scheduled their vacation in mid/late July.

Since these negotiations began, I have to say that I've become spiteful and bitter towards BART. It's not a comfortable ride but yet we pay a good amount each day. It's not exactly the most reliable ride either but we deal with it because it is the lesser of two evils. Most of the employees we encounter are rude and indifferent (but there are some that actually make an effort to help passengers...I want to be fair and point that out). And for clean freaks like me, it is 30 minutes each way of enduring smells, stains, germs, dander from all over. Suddenly, driving isn't that terrible of an option anymore, especially during summer when traffic is light. I actually drove to work a couple times recently and arrived in SF within 20 minutes, in the comfort of my own car, with coffee and a breakfast bar, and the liberty to listen to news radio continuously and talking on the phone.

I'm tired of all this. Shouldn't BART employees feel grateful that they have a decent job in this economy? And shouldn't BART management have better sense than to vote in favor of raises for themselves and to have the foresight years ago to better managed the budget so it wouldn't reach this desperate stage?

I'm sick of this. Maybe it's time for me to load some new tunes on my iPod and get ready to drive.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He said, she said...BART strike looming

Who to believe? BART management or the unions? Both sides are pointing fingers that the other is spreading falsehood. And the media is eating this game of 'he said, she said' up and presenting only the worst case scenarios to the public.

Even those within the unions are now saying different things. One says mediators will help the negotiations, the other says mediators will only slow the process and get us farther from achieving a compromise.

And who defines what is "unnecessary"? I don't remember passengers ever having the opportunity to fill out a ballot ranking what we find is necessary with BART extension plans?!?

If BART workers do strike, I am definitely going to ask my employer to allow me to telecommute. It will be more productive for me to do work in the 1.5 hours that I'd otherwise be stuck in bay bridge traffic.

BART takes its passengers for granted. We pay a handsome fee for a daily roundtrip ride to and from work. The sad truth is, we have little commute alternatives here. BART can continue to raise fares and we'd probably still have to fork out the extra mount. What else can I take? Transbay bus? I guess I could look into that as well. Carpool? I'd still be stuck on the bridge after passing the toll.

BART workers and management both claim they care about the passengers and do not want this disagreement to lead to strike. Do you believe that? Maybe they care a little but selfish interests come first of course.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This isn't Hawaii, people!

As my tweet indicated, I don't know what compels people to go shirtless and shoeless on BART just because the weather is hot. I really don't enjoy seeing people's sweaty bodies up close and could also really do without being forced to catch glances of people's feet. OK, it wasn't that many people going around without shoes and shirts but I did encounter at least 4 patrons like that today and 2 of them look like they were homeless.

You see that in Hawaii in casual eateries and the local Walmart but that's just the vibe and culture. On a BART train in the SF Bay Area during commute hours...not OK.

Metro crash

I'd like to express my sincerest sympathy to the family and friends of the 9 passengers who lost their lives during Metro crash in DC. What a frightening and horrible experience for all involved. I hope that finding the cause of this crash will bring a little bit of peace and resolve to the families and all passengers affected.

I have a friend who takes the Metro daily. I haven't heard from him yet after sending an initial email right after news of the crash broke. I really hope he's OK.

Monday, June 22, 2009

About time!

Finally...hand sanitizer by the escalators!! About time! I want to see them by the train doors too! THANK YOU, BART!

Fare hike and maybe a BART strike on July 1st?

According to SF Chronicle, BART Management and Union leaders are in negotiations to determine a compromise. Rachel Gorodn reports, "Management hopes to slice $100 million from the deficit by cutting labor costs. The proposed savings would come by diminishing health care and pension benefits and changing work rules that would give management more say over employee assignments - measures BART officials say are necessitated by the economic conditions." A pact must be reached by July 1st.

A strike, actually, will work against BART and the workers' favor. Why? A strike and sudden termination in service will only force employers to increasingly embrace telecommuting. And after realizing that productivity doesn't decline with telecommuting, guess what? BART will only lose passengers..permanently. I'm not saying all employers will allow telecommuting all of a sudden, but even if 10% of them do, that is significant revenue loss for BART.

Also on July 1st, our fares will go up by 6.1%. Watch your ticket value! Not to mention, train service will decrease starting September.

The real losers in all this drama-- passengers who rely on BART to get to work and make a living.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two new poll questions

These two topics have always been hot buttons on this blog. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Purpose of Concord trains?

I love Concord trains. As much as I can love a BART ride home after a long exhausting day at work, I am always happy to see a Concord train over a Pittsburg/BayPoint train. Why? Because only about 50% of the passengers lining up for the P/BP train get on. Many choose to not get on even though they can just transfer. As a result, I get a 2-seater to myself usually, and really relish the space and privacy.
Why does BART still have Concord trains? There must be some logic behind it that I'm hoping to learn from one of you. I'm glad-- I like them. While others groan that it's just a Concord train, I'm always pleased to hop right on there with plenty of room to spare.

This is the 500th post of BARTMusings. Thanks for hearing me complain, question, praise and discuss through 500 experiences.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

(updated in comments section) A baby boy who deserved a better life

The Chronicle reports today that the 4-month-old baby boy who died after being left alone for hours in a car at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station was identified today as Everett Carey. This whole situation was completely tragic, heartbreaking and shockingly irresponsible. I don't care how busy you are, how stressed you are with work, or how much of a rush you are in....I cannot comprehend how someone can forget to drop of a kid at daycare and just leave him inside a parked car for hours.

I really cannot even imagine how someone can forget a child in the car, in ANY situation. To me, it is appalling. And yes, I will judge in this situation. This is so sad and I hope that little Everett is somewhere up there, peacefully enjoying the life he should have had.

Monday, June 08, 2009


I'm a big fan of taking BART to SFO. There really is no better way to get to SFO from the East Bay. But, I've sensed that many people are more reluctant to take BART to OAK. I feel the same way for various reasons. For one, the Coliseum stop is not the safest station. And AirBART shuttle is not as continuous as it should be. Waiting for it both ways just make passengers less willing to use BART as an option to OAK. Then, there's the transfer requirement for those of us on the Pittsburg/Baypoint line. That makes me question whether I'd be saving any time at all by riding BART? I might as well just drive, and I do.

The biggest deterrents for me are MacArthur transfer and the occasional long gaps between AirBART shuttles.

What's your take on BARTing to OAK?

Friday, June 05, 2009

How much do "performers" make a day in the BART stations?

We always see performers in the downtown BART stations but the other day, seeing a quintet really made me they make that much that all five of them prefer to be there over doing something else with their time? I guess if they were all unemployed, making $20 between all 5 of them is better than $0. I just can't imagine making much more than $20 each day.

I do love the music-- it picks me up in the morning when my brain isn't exactly ready to begin the day.

Do you guys give money to performers? When I used to exit at Embarcadero, I would give $1 every Friday to this old Asian man who played a traditional instrument. I can't say I liked, or knew how to enjoy, the sound of it but he seemed so dedicated to this instrument that I was compelled to at least give him $1 a week.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Anti-social BART

I'm sure most of you would agree that people tend to keep themselves on BART and those who reach out to strangers to strike up a conversation are perceived as weird or annoying 95% of the time. People who are not reading a magazine, listening to music, or engrossed in their device, generally just keep their head down or their eyes closed.

To demonstrate this anti-social nature on BART, 2 friends were standing within 4 feet from each other today, looking opposite ways. It wasn't until Embarcadero, where one was getting ready to leave and finally looked up, the two realized that they were standing next to each other the whole time. They hugged briefly and chatted for 10 seconds before one had to exit.

Interesting the extent to which people keep to themselves on BART. It's so true. I usually am glued to my iPhone or a magazine (when there's no connection). I would not know who is sitting behind or across from me!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Driving too much the past couple of days

I've had to drive the past couple of days for meetings and personal reasons. I really wish there was an easier way to go from Orinda to San Jose because 60 miles each way, 120 miles per day, can really make you age fast.

Some have suggested to me BARTing to Dublin/Pleasanton station and then take the ACE train from there. But a 2 hour trip each way just isn't possible for me! I have too many responsibilities at work and at home. During my drive home yesterday, I almost fell asleep as I was going 15 mph around the Sunol Grade. On my San Jose meeting days, I can spend up to 4 hours each day just in my car. I have to go to San Jose once a week and I really wish there is an easier option than driving. Maybe the toll lanes they are creating will help?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Already sensing effects of summer exodus

As schools start to break for summer, I'm looking forward to emptier lots and trains. Cal is out now and soon all schools will be. The freeways will move faster, coffee shops emptier in the mornings, everything will just seem smoother and less congested.

It sure will make the commute a lot easier for the rest of us!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Do you have your ticket handy before you reach the gates?

I think most of us who are daily commuters, know to have our ticket handy before we reach the ticketing gate, in order to keep the line moving at an efficient pace. I know I'm not the only one who gets annoyed when someone breaks that progression by fumbling through their purse or brief case, takes out the ticket, don't know which way the ticket should be entered, and can't find where the ticket pops back out. Or, even worse, can't figure out why the ticket keeps getting rejected. This person keeps standing in front of the line, re-entering the ticket again and again...finally, turns around and is greeted by many angry faces.

It's unfair to expect non-commuters to know the unspoken etiquette during peak hours. I don't generally react negatively when someone in front of me takes more than 5 seconds to get through, although sometimes I can't help but tell them what they're doing wrong..nicely of course.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 minute door jam delay today because of someone prying open the doors

I was already impatiently waiting to get home when someone decided to throw his arms in to stop the closing door and pulled it open so he can come in.

The T.O. tried to close and open the doors again and again but this door was not cooperating. So, we wait.

It took 10 minutes for the door to function properly again. Meanwhile, this guy is asleep with his legs up on an empty seat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Seats are empty for a reason

On a crowded train this evening with standing passengers at every corner, I see 2 empty seats in the back. Whenever this happens, you know that it's empty for a good reason.

I took a standing position where I can actually see the seats and saw a bunch of newspaper pages stacked up, an empty bowl of cup-o-noodle with drips of soup leaking onto the paper, a couple empty Twinkie wrappers and a black plastic bag with gum stuck on it. Throughout the entire ride, people approached the seats, noticed what was on there, made a face and remained standing. No one wanted to remove the trash (including yours truly), cleared the seat to sit down. Well, that is until one old couple needed to sit down and actually made the effort to fold up the newspaper and placed all the trash into the black bag.

I guess it just takes one person to clean up the mess. I wouldn't do it, especially not with the wet cup-o-noodle bowl. I'd rather stand than pick-up garbage from an unknown source. Apparently, at least 30 other passengers felt the same way and remained standing. It's my loss, maybe, but I'll take it standing.

Friday, May 08, 2009

$3.4 Billion Redesign Project! - WOW!

This is fantastic! Nice to know that by 2018, there will be 700 brand new BART trains! These designs are great! Any of them beat what we have available now.

And furthermore, BART is evaluating pay fares by cellphones!

Great news on a Friday morning! Welcome to the new century, BART.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The innocence of a first time BART rider

This is a very cute story, actually. Seeing this little boy made my ride home very pleasant. A little boy, maybe 4 or so, accompanied by his mom, was riding BART for the first time.

He walked in, full of energy and completely ecstatic, and yelled, "Wow, the train is so big!"

He happily skipped down the aisle and hopped onto an empty seat. He told him mom, "Look, I get to sit by the window!"

Throughout the ride, he pressed his hands against the window, brushed them up and down around the frame. He pointed at trees, houses, cars, people...he had a huge smile the entire time!

He then stretched his neck to look down both sides of the train, as far as he could, and then smiled again.

He happily swung his legs back and forth as he became mesmerized by the "view" from his window seat.

It's so innocent and adorable. He saw everything from a fresh, positive perspective. The same seat that most of think think is dirty, the same window that I think needs a deep cleaning and would never touch, and the same view that I find depressing. We all need to be reminded of the happy innocence we all once had.

Monday, May 04, 2009

BART ride with no entertainment

I always come ready with magazines or books, or come equipped with my iPhone to help keep myself preoccupied and entertained during the BART ride. This morning, not only did I forget to stuff in a magazine into my bag, my iPhone completely died after I reached Rockridge. It just would not turn on, despite maximum battery life. It's still dead as I'm typing this email.

I've become completely dependent on my iPhone to help me pass time while on the train. I do my work emails, I tweet, I read news, I update my status, I look at videoclips, I listen to music....I heavily depend on my iPhone to help me overlook all the little things that used to bug me on BART. Without it today, I was like an addict without access to source of addiction. The ride could NOT be any slower, I was feeling anxious about what was going on at work, I felt out of the loop with what's going on in the world, and I had NO outlet to vent/share my frustrations and observations!!!

In my ride home later, I'm going to have to bring along a couple trade magazines to keep myself preoccupied. Without my iPhone, I feel incomplete, as silly as that sounds.

I better get a replacement phone soon or get it fixed!!!

Friday, May 01, 2009

First mask wearer found!

I actually saw someone wearing a mask on the way to work today. Like I said, it is very common in Asia, and with the swine flu outbreak not losing any momentum, I expect to see more mask wearers on BART in the Bay Area. Apparently there are different grades of masks, and not all protect the wearer from bacteria and viruses. My parents, being the big worriers that they are, sent me a case of N95 masks. Check the CDC website for a list of certified swine flu protection masks.

Am I going to wear a mask on BART? Probably not!! But I will place one in my bag just in case I encounter someone who has all the symptoms. Meanwhile, I will continue to use drench my hands and arms in Purell after each ride.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is the swine flu making you more aware of those around you on the train?

I've always been very cautious of sicklings on the train. In cramped conditions, you can feel the air from someone's cough. I don't want to repeat what I've written before but I've seen many many hands wipe a wet nose or cover a cough and then go straight to the safety bar. It's's mass transit.

With the swine flu outbreak, I'm definitely more cautious of every sneeze, cough and wipe around me. I'm constantly dipping my hands in Purell and starting to see more people doing so.

People seem to take the swine flu lightly because of the initial mild symptoms but if the virus continues to spread, it will cause death. I see and hear people make swine flu jokes-- I only hope we can still laugh about it 2 weeks from now.

I've taken public transit in Asia where wearing masks is the norm. I wonder if we'll ever get to that point...I hope not!! Out of curiosity, I looked closely at one of the masks in our first aid kit at home. I was surprised to find out that while it prevents germs from spreading to others, it does not protect the wearer whatsoever.

If you're sick, stay home, if you're worse, go see a doctor. Just don't come into work and get the rest of us sick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BART once again turns to fare increase to decrease deficit

It seems like the only solution BART Board can think of in order to supplement the budget is fare hikes. Now, they are proposing to increase fares to and from San Francisco Airport by 10%.

It already takes 70 minutes for me to take BART from Orinda to SFO, much longer than driving to SFO during off-peak hours which is when I generally schedule my flights. Yet, I've continued to be a fan of taking BART to SFO because of its direct access to the terminal and the savings we gain from not having to pay for parking.

However, if the fare continues to rise to the range of $15 and beyond (we all know fare hikes will continue), I like would not take BART to SFO for short, weekend trips, or one-day business trips.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What to do..what to do...

Today, I sat in a reserved seat when I didn't see any seniors, disabled, or anyone else in need around me. As I sat down, a dressy woman who appeared to be no where near senior status said to me, "I'm a senior citizen, I need to sit." I wasn't going to question her claim. Besides, she was older than me, that I much I know. I complied and said, "Sure, of course." A few stations later, I found myself seated in another reserved seat. An older man walked in. He had head full of silver hair but his face and physique appeared to be much younger than 60+. After the incident with the woman, I wanted to volunteer my seat but didn't want to insult him either in case he was just prematurely gray. I watched him for any signs of wanting a seat. I just couldn't tell. Well, I ended up sitting the rest of the way and he ended up standing while reading a book.

With females and children, it is much easier. I can immediately offer the seat and they'd gladly take it. With some men, it can be offensive. I've seen an old gentleman who got irritated when everyone kept on asking him if he'd like to sit down. He ended saying, "No, I am old but I can stand on my own."

iBART app very cool

I've had an iPhone for 8 months now and FINALLY, I downloaded a BART app for it. It very quickly provided me with live schedules and advisories (versus logging onto the Internet with my computer or laptop to check the status) and saved me 14 minutes today which I used to stay at home and enjoy a cup of coffee.

If you haven't downloaded it already, I highly recommend it.

The sun is out and so are the homeless

This always happens when the weather turns from cold to warm. Today, the Civic Center station vicinity was filled with homeless folks sitting around the sidewalks, chatting, catching up, soaking up the sun, laying out their belongings, and sun drying their wardrobe; all in great spirits! The warm weather is no doubt a welcomed change for them. It really is a sad reality, however, to see just HOW MANY homeless are out there. Now that they've all come out, you realize just how significant the homeless population is. Literally, 2 out of every 5 people I walked by today (near the station) were homeless. They were everywhere.

Seeing the homeless is nothing new around the Civic Center area but I've never seen this many. It really has gotten worse this past year. I guess there just aren't enough resources for the agencies to help all of them, especially while in a recession. It was a very sad sight to see the streets lined with homeless. While I once declared on this blog that I will stop giving money to the homeless (after doing so for several years but later saw same young man drinking away), I couldn't help but give a couple dollars to an older homeless man today who was looking for food to eat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another young child riding BART alone

I've written about this once before but since becoming a mom, and also with the murder and kidnapping of Sandra Cantu, I notice even more when little kids ride on BART alone. I don't mean 8-10 year olds, I actually mean those 6 or under. I can't believe there are still little kids, who appear to be 6 or 7, riding on BART solo. A sweet old woman asked one kid whether he is heading to school, and he said yes, kindergarten. That's how I estimated his age. How can a little 6 year old be left alone to ride on BART? There are plenty of suspicious characters on BART, or actually, everywhere, and this little boy is supposed to know how to determine who is good or bad? Even if his parents have taught him to not talk to strangers, it's not a 6 year old's responsibility to protect himself in public, not fully, not yet.

Parents may need to work but no matter how busy they are, one of them should at least be responsible for transporting the child to school, or else, enroll at a closer school!

I wonder how many little kids ride alone on BART. I hope nothing bad ever happens to any of them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A touchy subject

With a new baby, most people would probably expect me to be a bit more understanding and less uncomfortable about a topic such as breastfeeding on BART. I know that mothers are encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible, whenever the baby needs it, and wherever the baby might need it at. There are plenty of accessories and trendy contraptions these days to cover the nursing mothers while in public.

So why do I still feel just a tad bit weird about seeing a woman breastfeed on BART? For one, I personally have chosen not to ever do that in a public setting. I went out of my way to schedule my son's feedings so I wouldn't ever need to do that. Also, no matter how encouraged and how natural it is to feed on-demand, the fact of the matter is, someone next to you is letting out something very private. There's just something uncomfortable about hearing the sounds and suckles of another infant, right next to you ON BART.

I asked for people's opinion on this before I decided to write about it. It's a sensitive topic for some. I can imagine La Leche League sending me emails already. The consensus seems to be, yes, most people get a little uncomfortable seeing (and hearing) a woman breastfeed in public. And on BART, it is even more uncomfortable because it is not as loud or crowded (well, depending when) as a restaurant, and you are facing each other or can easily make eye contact, unlike on an airplane where you're seated in rows and can hide near a window.

I'm not saying one shouldn't breastfeed in public...but on BART, it just feels a little too private.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Coliseum? A destination?

Saw a couple tourists today taking advantage of BART to sight see. Aside from SF downtown, I'm not sure where else you would want to go to. Anyhow, they were looking at the BART routes and realized that they needed to transfer because they looked confused. They looked around to see who they can direct their question to, and I guess I looked friendly enough.

They asked, "We want to see the Coliseum. How do we get there?" I told them they needed to transfer at MacArthur. Inside my head, I was initially wondering, why on earth would anyone pick the Coliseum as a tourist destination? Then, I realized, well, maybe they've never seen an American football stadium, or maybe they wanted to take a picture of the Raiders logo because Raiders are an international brand and people all over the world wear Raiders jerseys.

It was just interesting to me that they make a point to visit the Coliseum. Now, the Coliseum in Rome is a different story...amazing and symbolic monument. I guess some could say the same about the Oakland Coliseum.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Love Connection on BART

Funny thing happened today during my morning ride. A man and a woman exchanged phone numbers. Their shy conversation was heard by a whole section of the train. It was rather sweet actually. They first smiled. The man started out by saying, "We've been on the same schedule a lot lately, haven't we?" The woman smiled and said, "Yeah, seems like it." Then they talked about where they worked, where they lived, what their hobbies were, and the usual first "date" conversation. Finally, the man had to exit at Embarcadero and he asked for her number. They quickly exchanged business cards before the door closed. The woman was smiling to herself afterwards as she looked at the card, and exited at Powell.

Very sweet. BART connects people!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Know anyone on here?

Thanks to a couple of you who sent me this link. Very interesting approach and I've actually wanted to do this myself after seeing inconsiderate passengers who pretend to be asleep, or pretend to intensely reading or typing on their mobile devices, or just won't look up to make eye contact, when an elderly passenger or a disabled passenger walks in. I stare at them continuously and I see it when they look up and quickly take a peak to check whether the entitled passenger is still in front of them and quickly look down again. A few times I've said something. Other times, I give up my non-handicapped designated seats for those who actually need to sit.

Take a look at this website. Perhaps it's time to do the same on BART. SMILE.

Clean train today

This morning's train interior looked completely clean and freshly scrubbed. I don't think I've seen it like that in a long long time, if ever. The plastic floors did not have stains or trash, even the corners were clean and free of gum or candy wrappers. The windows looked wiped with no finger prints, smudges or stains.

I'm sure BART cleans the trains regularly but it seemed like a bit more effort went into cleaning this time around.

Whatever it is they did differently, it was a welcomed change to see a clean train.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wonderful ride today

Today's BART ride was rather quick and enjoyable mainly because I had company! My husband rode BART with me today to attend a conference in SF and having someone to chat with made all the difference. I did make sure to keep our conversation to ourselves and speak at a low volume to not bother passengers around us since I know I don't like it when people are talking loudly on the train. Besides, I'd like to keep our family matters to ourselves anyways.

I even had some extra time to grab a Venti coffee before the shuttle arrived. Then I got to work, and found out some work-related good news.

Let's hope this positive trend continues the rest of the day!

Monday, March 30, 2009

UC Berkeley grad students conducting a survey around BART parking usage

Here's an interesting survey around BART station parking use. The students are also raffling off $50 Peet's gift cards. Check it out.

or click here.

Just another manic Monday..

Couldn't quite decide which observation to write about today, so decided to do a Top 5 Monday list instead...

5. Saw 3 passengers carrying coffee cups come in today. As expected, one spilled and dripped all over the new plastic floors, which made the coffee roll all over the area and onto people's shoes.

4. Saw a mom with 3 little kids come into the train. Mom was all over her iPhone copycat while the kids were screaming they were hungry, sitting on the floor, walking around the car, jumping in place. Mom did not look up once! (Well, maybe once to check her clock.)

3. Someone took my standing space after I stepped out of the train to let people exit the train out of courtesy. I wasn't in the mood to explain and reclaim my space so I just gave a look and squeezed him out of the area.

2. Saw someone with a Kindle (ebook/eReader from Amazon). I still don't think I will enjoy reading from it. Anyone here with one and would like to offer feedback??

and the most bizarre thing I saw today......

1. After the train emptied post-Montgomery station, saw a man with a tight t-shirt use the overhead safety bars to do pull ups. What the heck??? Was he trying to show off? I don't know if those bars can handle weight. Still, it was just weird since he was just going up and down the bar nonstop and counting.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bloody seat handle

Standing during the ride home yesterday, I held on to a seat handle bar to maintain my balance. About mid-way through the ride, a seat opened up, and I sat down. I looked on my palm and there was drying blood on there. It seemed like the blood had been wiped on the handle about a few hours ago and is no longer wet but still wet enough to make an imprint on someone grasping hard on the handle bar. It was really sickening to see that on my hand and I literally dumped about half a bottle of travel-size Purell on my palm. I don't think the woman seated next to me was happy to smell the strong scent of rubbing alcohol. It took awhile for me to get rid of the blood print completely.

I wasn't going to call the police or anything since there wasn't blood anywhere else. It is most likely someone who had a bloody nose, didn't have tissues, and needed to wipe it somewhere. Needless to say, it was an unpleasant sight and experience for me. We already assume these handle bars are dirty but to actually see a blood print on your hand takes it to a new level.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BART Wi-Fi Poll Result

Thanks to the 51 of you who voted. 98% of us would not spend $30 a month for continuous wireless Internet access on BART, while 1 person voted yes. I hope BART does not lose money offering this new service since they've already invested in the infrastructure. If BART's subscription Wi-Fi does not pay off, they will probably raise fares again on us to make up for the loss.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The durable BART ticket

Very random thought here but BART tickets are actually quite durable. I have a ticket that has been used by 3 different family members, gone through the mail several times (for them to use while they take BART from SFO to Orinda), placed in pockets, purses and wallets, and gone through a cycle of laundry in the washer and dryer (accidentally left in the pocket)!! Especially after the washer and dryer cycle, I was pretty sure it wouldn't work anymore, but it actually went through the ticket machine! I guess the only weakness is demagnetization but somehow this little ticket didn't get demagnetized placed in different wallets. I'm now using it after it's been used by 3 others and after 1 more round-trip ride, the little ticket will have fulfilled its purpose and the amount will go down to less than $1.

Those who rush to the doors before the destination

I never can understand this, especially when the train is crowded. There are just some people who must squeeze through the crowds, bump and walk all over people because they need to be standing right in front of the door before the train stops. It especially doesn't make sense at Embarcadero station because more than half the train needs to get off there anyways, so why not just go with the flow. A woman today, during mid-Transbay tube, started gathering her things, and step by step pushed her way through from the end of the train to the door. She squeezed herself to the front, forced everyone else to re-position to make room for her premature exit, and finally stood right in front of the door, about an inch from the glass. Sure, she was the first one out the door but she probably saved herself 5 seconds while inconveniencing at least 15 others.

Why do that?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pigeons, lesser of 2 evils? Not necessarily

Every station has its own problems. At the Civic Center station, you've heard me complain enough about homeless body wastes, drunkards, addicts, and excessive solicitation...etc. At the Orinda station, if I had to name an issue, I guess it would have to be awful traffic getting out of the station, it takes me 15 minutes just to get out of the station and onto the main road. Very annoying after an already long day of work. I don't travel in or out of other stations enough to comment on the main problems, but I'm sure each has its own.

David Rust, a BART commuter out of the San Leandro station, wrote me an interesting email today. Apparently, the massive pigeon population at the station is the concern there. Initially, I was thinking, how could pigeons be problematic. After reading his email, I am thinking that the traffic problem out of Orinda station is not that big of a deal, although I'd still prefer pigeons over human wastes any day!

Here's his note. Thanks for sharing, David. Hope they solve the problem for you, although from past experience, I doubt BART would do anything about it.

After years of looking the other way, BART has finally started to fix up the San Leandro station with actual paint and do something about the pigeons there. We've all had to listen to fake recorded hawk calls for a couple years, seen the fake owls get more grimy with each passing month, and push past the pigeon poop on the floor AND the esclator. It's better now, but the problem hasn't been solved. A few people, including one very eccentric woman, feed the pigeons every day. The woman gets bread at the local catholic church - free to the homeless - and brings it on over to BART to feed her feathered friends. BART always seems surprised when they hear about this, but can do little to stop it. The woman comes at the same time every day, and the same elderly gentleman brings seed or bread or whatever to feed the 50 or so permanent residents. Can't BART do more enforcement? This is a huge health hazard and the only way to stop it is to cut off the food supply. Signs stating that it is illegal to feed pigeons might not have any effect, but it would be a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

That time has come...

I generally keep the content on this blog BART-related but you know I break that rule once a year, around this time. Yes, it's March Madness and I can't help but get a bit nervous and anxious about how my team, UCLA Bruins, will do in this year's tourney. As a big sports fan, I actually think I personally am making a difference and bringing luck to my team by writing and wishing them luck publicly. I know, ridiculously silly but I've done it the past 3 years on BART Musings and they've gone to Final Four 3 years in a row. I'm not about to break the streak by not blogging about the Bruins.


(ok, I'm done...back to BART now)

Please cover your mouth when you yawn

We've all seen it. People yawning on BART, letting out a huge breath of air from the mouth that hits the passengers next to them on BART. Maybe it's just me but I really don't like it when someone's massive exhale blows on me so hard that it makes my hair move. I usually hold my breath for at least 10 seconds when that happens. I really don't feel like smelling someone else's breath. Besides, I personally ALWAYS cover my mouth when I yawn, or minimize my yawn within my mouth. Why don't other people do that?? Instead, they must announce to the train that they are tired by letting out a heavy breath of air. Just another pet peeve of mine. I think it's basic etiquette.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being seated makes a world of difference

I've been standing too often and too long on BART. Today, I saw a seat vacated and although I was a footstep farther than the closest person to the seat, I had the advantage angle. I was too tired today to keep standing so I swooped in. I'm sure I was being called all sorts of names inside her head, but hey, I could care less today.

As soon as I was seated, I was soaked into my own world. I was able to close my eyes, check email, look at photos of my son, then close my eyes again. It was actually relaxing. I was able to block out the noise more easily and actually thought I dozed off for a minute.

Perhaps I've been taking those beat up old seats for granted. It sure was nice, at least this morning, to sit down instead of being sandwiched between passengers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A good deed with an asterisk*

Interesting thing happened after my BART ride today. I've written about the Starbucks near the Civic Center exit before. Where homeless people liked to drink the milk and half/half at the condiments station and eat off the sugar packs. Well, because the train was late today, I missed my company shuttle by 5 seconds. So, I had some time to get myself a nice warm cup of coffee at the Starbucks.

As I approached the condiments station with my grande cup, I saw a homeless man about to be escorted out. There was something different about him. He was homeless for sure, but he was very polite and mild mannered. He certainly wasn't an addict and probably recently became homeless. He saw that I was about to pour out my coffee to make room for cream. And he politely asked me, "Miss, may I have some of that coffee?" as he reached out a worn out Starbucks cup.

I looked at the coffee cup and didn't think pouring coffee in there is the most sanitary thing to do, so I decided to give him the entire cup since I could use a venti sized coffee instead today. He was so thankful. I am really glad I was able to do something for him, although it was partially for selfish reasons.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Make way for a homeless man and his cart & bags

In a fairly packed train this morning, at the West Oakland station, a homeless man squeezes himself onto the train along with a cart and 3 huge trash bags. Luckily, I was on the opposite end of the train, watching him push people out of his way with the trash bags. It wasn't too hard for people to make way for him since no one wanted to be near him and pushed themselves as far as they can possibly go, even if it was just inches.

Of course we've all seen the homeless on BART, but with a shopping cart and 3 completely packed trash bags during commute hours? Shouldn't there be some enforcement around that??

Friday, March 06, 2009


An elderly woman on the train had a serious staring problem and just can't seem to mind her own business. Not only did she stare at everyone around her up and down, and up and down, she actually told a woman to zip up her purse to avoid thefts, and told a man to hem his pants because the bottoms were wet from the rain puddles. I was ready for her to say something about me since I've caught her staring at me every time I glanced her way, but she never fired away with a comment.

Sure, her comments and persistent staring were harmless but to the rest of us, the general rule on BART is Mind Your Own Business. I don't tell the passenger next to me that he has food stuck in between his teeth, and he doesn't tell me that I left a button undone. I guess this woman was trying to be helpful but the two people she talked to sure did not appreciate her comments and thought she was annoying for not minding her own business.

M.Y.O.B. -- that's the general rule on BART.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Can't get worse than a delayed train on a rainy day

First day back at work from maternity leave and of course it's gotta be a horrid commute. The train was 8 minutes delayed and by the time it reached Orinda, it was at max capacity. I ran to the end of the train and still barely squeezed myself on. After the 15+ folks squeezed onto the end of the train, there really was barely enough air to breath. The windows were misty and fogged, and faces were about 4 inches from each other. It was nearly impossible to NOT make eye contact since eyes were at every angle you turn. My arms were touching someone, my back was touching someone else, my hair was touching someone too. And don't even get me started on the scents-- you can smell what someone had for breakfast, and if it was just coffee, consider yourself lucky!!

I felt bad for shorter passengers. I saw many of them struggling to hang on to the overhead safety bar. One woman next to me barely grip the bar with her fingers and as as result, she kept on holding on to ME!!!! I looked at her, and she said, "I got to hang on to something, sorry." I felt bad for her so I let her push me for balance every so often.

Just when I thought things could not get worse...a young man walked in at West Oakland who seemed to have bronchitis. His deep, thick, cough scared everyone on the train. I swore I tried my best to hold my breath until we reached SF but couldn't do it of course.

Finally after the mass exodus at Embarcadero and Montgomery, I sat down and drenched my hands in Purell. I didn't even try to catch my shuttle, with the delayed train, I missed 2 shuttles already and wasn't going to bother running.

Great way to get back into work with this morning's commute! Thanks for the welcome, BART!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Yet another very frustrated passenger looking for some sign of improvement

I received this email from a passenger who has every reason to be fed-up. Not only did he have a bike stolen twice at the North Berkeley station, he brings up some other complaints that would make all of us question why we pay up to $12 or whatever the max is now, for a 3rd-class ride. I'd like to know how many bikes are stolen each year at BART stations. If the figure is high, what has BART done to prevent bike thefts?

Anyhow, take a look at the email below. Thanks for writing-- know that you are not alone! We feel for you! We want to see change too.


For the second time in a year, my bike was stolen at North Berkeley BART Station. Actually, the first time they only took my rear tire, but regardless, I was stranded at the damn BART station trying to get home. It is obvious from a quick scan, and confirmed by the BART police officer to whom I made a report, that a bike or two probably gets stolen every week, if not every day. This is completely inexcusable. I had stopped riding to N Berkeley because I decided I needed the safety of the bike cage at the downtown station, which has in fact proven to be a nice (if terribly inconvenient) solution. This was the first day in a good long while that I parked at N Berkeley, but apparently one day is all it takes. And it was a used, beater-bike, totally locked up.... I don't get it. They must have had a nice set of tools. What about a couple of cameras installed so we can at least get a glimpse of the thief in action? What about a little more security that encourages the bench-sleepers and others who seem to camp outside the station to move along? Only a small fraction of commuters lives within walking distance of a BART station, and they should be doing everything they can to encourage people to NOT drive... I find their total lack of interest in encouraging and protecting bicyclists (and everyone else, for that matter) really frustrating. And of course I can't bring the bike on the train with me (nor do I really want to) because you are not allowed to during commute hours. It's like they are trying to drive away business. The police officer I spoke to was refreshingly candid when he said that BART is one of the most expensive commuter systems in the country and provides the lowest level of safety and service he has ever seen. As someone who sinks well over $1000/year in fares into the stupid system, I'm pretty pissed off.

Since I'm in a venting mood, I have to also say that I am really annoyed at the laissez-faire attitude that the station agents take with fare jumpers. While waiting for the officer to arrive to the N Berkeley Station, about ten minutes, I saw at least 5 people just waltz into or out of the station through the emergency gate. These were not BART employees. There was no obvious reason why they should be allowed to just avoid the fare. Three of them were clearly of the homeless set. Is it any wonder that so many BART cars appear to be the personal bathrooms for various people? I am all for allowing the occasional pass for someone who needs to get somewhere and cannot afford it, but that seems to me to require some sort of permission slip, and presumably that would be the exception, not the rule. I find myself feeling much the chump for paying my round-trip fare every day when many dozens of people don't feel the need to bother. The same thing happens in the Downtown Berkeley station where they have the bike cage. I have seen scores of people coming in and out of the supposedly closed north entrance to the station, which is supposed to only be an emergency exit. There are signs saying alarms will ring, cameras are watching, etc, etc, but people come in and out of there with impunity. I think it is an offense to all of the paying riders for BART to essentially ignore these things. They can't protect our stuff, they can't enforce the basic rules... hell, they can't even protect us!

The broken-window theory of neighborhood blight is a well established phenomenon... That's where junky yards, broken windows, vacant houses, etc, tend to attract crime, which leads to more blight. It's like trash on the side of the highway leading to more trash being thrown there. You have to take care of these things or you get snowballed by worse and worse problems. When you consider how often BART is delayed or otherwise has other service problems, these other annoyances and dangers become even more frustrating. I think these are all pointing to the same fundamental problem... BART needs a major attitude adjustment. If I park my bike of BART property, I expect some security in exchange. If their system is insecure, fix it! I did my part (locked, crappy bike, left it and returned in daylight hours... what more can I do?); it seems like they should be liable. And if I pay to get on and off the train, then everyone else should too, unless they have a really good reason. And if people are pissing in the cars or otherwise making the commute really unpleasant, they should be taken to task for it. What are the cameras in the cars good for anyway? And open the stupid bathrooms in the stations please! Good grief. We're all much more likely to die from diseases contracted from people crapping on the train than we are from some terrorist threat.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

5 days and counting

My 5 months maternity leave is coming to an end. On Monday, March 2nd, I will be back to the daily grind and commuting via BART. I look forward to sharing some new experiences, opinions and interesting observations with you again here.

BARTing with the little one

Today, I finally decided to take my now 4 months old to the city via BART. We've been bringing him everywhere by car but I've hesitated on the BART experience for all sorts of reasons. First, if you've read previous posts, you know that I cannot ride BART without drenching Purell on my hands immediately after. So naturally, I didn't want to expose my newborn to a germs nest just yet. Secondly, I just wasn't sure if there would be room to fit a stroller on the train, especially when crowded. I've seen strollers causing parents and surrounding passengers problems on trains. Then there is the elevator issue-- elevator conditions are always an unknown-- they are either out of order, dirty, or too crowded. Finally, I just wasn't sure how my 4 months old would react to the loud squeaking of the train movements.

I have to say BARTing to the city with an infant isn't bad at all and certainly beats Saturday traffic across the bridge. We found enough space on the train both ways to position the stroller. We actually didn't have to deal with elevator or escalator issues because we were able to take apart the stroller and use the stairs. The little guy was calm throughout the ride. And as for germs...sure, sneezes and coughs were all around us as were shoes on the seats, but a bath as soon as we got home fixed that. All in all, the experience was fairly easy and we got to the city much faster than we would have sitting through traffic on 80.

Will we take the little one to the city by BART again? Definitely!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BART Collision Photo

Sure, we frequently experience delays but we seldom get to see the cause of our delay. This evening, two trains collided, causing 10-15 minute delays (which we've learned through the years really mean 15-20 minutes).

The photo looks like it's straight out of the movie set. Hope passengers were safe although Michael Cabanatuan of SF Chronicle reports that 9 passengers were injured. The last thing BART needs right now is another lawsuit and more bad PR.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wi-Fi coming to BART! But it'll cost you.

Finally, BART is embracing Wi-Fi access, which I know many commuters have long been hoping for. However, as Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle reports subscribers will be charged about $30 a month, $9 a day, $6 for two hours and $300 for a year's subscription.

With all the powerful networks and capabilities mobile devices are equipped with these days, I personally no longer see the need to use Wi-Fi on BART. I answer work emails and compose work documents on my Treo, and now the iPhone. Sure, I'll have to wait to pass the Transbay tube and other underground areas for an email to send, but the delay is relatively harmless.

So, would you pay for Wi-Fi on BART? Please vote and let us know!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

No smoking means NO smoking - A note from a rider

This rant came from a rider. Another example of how some passengers have complete disregard for rules. Good for her for confronting the smoker!


I'm a regular BART rider getting on at the Concord Station. Waiting in the queue for the next SF train, I suddenly smelled cigarette smoke. Now, how many signs are there posted in and around the BART station that there is No Smoking, Eating or Drinking anywhere within the gates, platform and of course trains? Well I looked to my right and here’s a guy just puffing away. He seems to be a regular, that is, he seemed very comfortable with the routine and looked like a regular business commuter, not a traveler. There were already several people in my line, but none in his yet, but no one said anything. I finally yelled over that there is no smoking on the platform and that he should put it out. He sort of glanced at me, then approached the edge of the platform but didn’t say anything and I could still see the cigarette in his hand and smoke emanating from his mouth. I repeated myself and then said that I would call the station agent if he didn’t put it out. He quickly stated he was putting it out and, to give him some credit, he did dispose of the doused cigarette into a proper receptacle, and didn’t just smash it underfoot.

I mean, it seemed he thought it was perfectly fine to do so – probably has and no one ever says anything. Now if I can only get the guy who smokes near the end of the parking garage at Concord to stop or move into the open area – the smoke just collects and wafts throughout the entire first level of the structure – yuck!

Clock is ticking on my maternity leave...

Thanks to all of you who have been patient with the intermittent writing on BART Musings the past few months. I will be returning to work full-time first week of March and will no doubt have interesting observations to write about! I am still looking forward to my first BART trip with the baby-- I've chosen driving over BART the past couple of trips to SF mainly because of the time (around Noon), but in the next couple of weeks, I hope to take him to the Ferry Building and Pier should the weather cooperates and will write a full evaluation of just how baby-friendly BART facilities are.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

BART Police Shooting at Fruitvale - Your Take? (Updated)

We've all heard about the recent BART police shooting at the Fruitvale Station and the victim's family's decision to sue BART for $25 million. While we wait for the facts on what exactly happened and why a gun and not a Taser was used, the bottom line remains that an unarmed man on the ground was killed. Yet, I personally cannot understand how the victim's attorney came up with the figure of $25 million. Some of the comments on SFGate got pretty heated and personal. I'll keep my mouth shut for now until further facts are revealed. What's your take on this mess?

Updated: I try to keep this blog clearly related to BART and commuting and have purposely kept out any political and personal perspectives. This event crosses these boundaries but my role is not to make any judgment but to encourage conversation. However, somehow, people have publicly made this a racially driven occurrence, which I strongly disagree with. How is this incident racial profiling? How is this police brutality? Can't it be due to the officer's lack of hands-on experience with force? Or perhaps his lack of training? Why must we jump to the conclusion that this shooting was driven by race? Yes, it is frustrating that we have not received any formal statements from him concerning what happened, but how can we immediately paint this as an "execution" because of color? Now ironically folks are describing the victim as a saint, a martyr. This man had a record! Of course he did not deserve to die but he is no saint. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Yes, there is plenty of police brutality and racial profiling in this country but that shouldn't be the immediate explanation for everything. I will now focus back on BART and commuting but I needed to get this out of my chest!

On an unrelated note, please see the BART Musings interview feature #3 below.