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.