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!