Monday, March 31, 2003

Embarcadero ::: Street escalator is back in service.

Ashby ::: Huge rush-hour crowd heads for two functioning exit gates. Guy at the front sticks his ticket in; faregate takes it; keeps it; and remains closed. Guy looks confused. Well, that gate is now out of service. We've got one functioning exit gate, a passenger with his ticket lodged in the bowels of a 30 year old faregate, and no sign of a station agent.
Embarcadero ::: Hmm. Wonder why there's a BART employee in a yellow vest standing near the exit gates. I will know in 3 or 4 seconds. Which is the amount of time that it takes me to put my ticket in the [new] gate, begin to stroll through the open gate, and have the gate beep loudly and slam closed on me. I've got one foot in and one foot out. Yellow Vest Man asks to see my ticket, wants to know if it deducted the correct fare. It did. He says that I probably confused the [optical?] sensor with my bag. Whatever.

Street escalator is out of service and cordoned off.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Oh hell; I've got insufficient value on my ticket. Gonna have to stop at the Ashby ticket machine before catching my SF train. Enter station...three ticket machines out of service. One in service. Long line. Woman at front of line spends several precious minutes repeatedly stuffing the same dollar bill into the machine, which repeatedly stuffs it right back out. Time's a-wasting, and the SF train is coming ever closer. She finally gets her ticket. Next guy stuffs in a five. Machine chokes, begins beeping frantically. Great. Zero machines in service; 15 people in line; train approaching Ashby. Fortunately there is a technician in the station, who opens the offending machine, removes the five, and reboots the machine. Next couple of patrons go smoothly. My turn; I've pre-selected my crispiest bills; get my ticket and get the hell out of there.

I feel very sorry for anyone who uses these machines regularly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I'm heading in to work a little earlier than usual today; seems like earlier is busier on BART. Train is more crowded than usual, so forget about finding a seat. Heavy stop and go traffic from Macarthur to West Oakland...I'm expecting to find BART cops peering into trains (and slowing stuff down) at West Oakland, but surprisingly there is no sign of them. After West Oakland, all is smooth.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Okay, forget my crackpot theory about air resistance. Mike O reports that the reason that trains seem to accellerate at the last moment while emerging from the Transbay Tube into Embarcadero is because of the famous Power Sagging deal. Basically, the rails in Embarcadero are on a separate circuit from the Tube, so as soon as the train hits the Embarcadero circuit it's got more juice available and can accellerate more quickly. If only for a split second before braking at Embarcadero.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Ever notice that coming out of the Transbay Tube, just as the train is about to enter Embarcadero, it seems to accellerate a little bit? Always wondered about that. I wonder if it is due to lower air resistance at the very end of the tube and in the stations...I mean, it must take a lot of energy to punch through the column of air in the tube, but less so in the stations. Hmm...

Oh, by the way...smooth ride today, no problems.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Smooth ride again this morning; not sure what kind of protests may be going on in SF but they aren't having any apparent effect on BART.

New faregate printer problems continue -- drops a digit, and prints so faintly that it's nearly illegible. I dunno, I expected near-perfection in printing from these long awaited brand spanking new machines. Is BART even aware that they're not printing properly? Did BART get a 90 day warranty?

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Heading to work a little later than usual today...I get a seat right away at Ashby. Smooth ride to Embarcadero. Outside the station, Market Street is nuts with protesters, cops, onlookers. No busses or cars are getting through, but BART isn't ruffled.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Embarcadero ::: Richmond train is late.
Hey, Mike O has pointed us to another BART-related site, Mostly focused on (duh) the Peninsula, but it has some interesting stuff. LWB says check it out.
Embarcadero ::: Thanks to the worn out printers on the old faregates (and my failure to keep a running tally in my head), the Embarcadero faregate (spiffy new) sends me off to the Addfare Machine. Okay, haven't done this in a while. Let's see...there's two machines...both in use...there's two more, one out of service, one apparently working. Add my $1.10, return to exit, and I'm out. Not too painful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Embarcadero ::: Richmond train is late.

Ashby ::: Approaching Ashby, it's the usual scene -- train is packed, riders are anxiously jockeying for position near the doors. Once they open, a crowd surges out and heads quickly to the exit, hoping to get through the exit gates before the backlog forms. We got two exit gates tonight and Ms. Ramirez standing by in case of jams, but it doesn't matter. Pity the poor sucker who took his time; the queue extends all the way across the platform and down the stairs.
New Faregate Status AFAIK

Complete (12 of 39):

Civic Center
16th Street
24th Street
12th Street Oakland
19th Street Oakland

In Progress/Teed Up (4):

Daly City (March 27th)
Glen Park (March 29th)
Macarthur (April 8)
Coliseum (April 12)

Please contact me with corrections and updates!

[Last updated April 7, 2003]
Ashby ::: SF train is late, but the PA makes an announcement to provide an ETA. I appreciate that.

Monday, March 17, 2003

It's an All Faregate Monday!!

Mike K writes to say that new faregate installation is complete at Civic Center, just in time for yesterday's peace rally. This completes the 4 downtown SF stations. Daly City and 24th Street are next.

Ernie blogs the first recorded sighting of a new faregate with the dreaded orange Out Of Service sticker across its mouth. That didn't take long. Another bad omen.
Okay, we're back from vacation, and we're tanned, rested, and ready. What does BART have in store for us? Plenty of parking at Ashby, and seats on the train. Is everyone taking a sick day to rest up after the big peace rally? At Embarcadero, the new faregate isn't printing ticket value properly; it's dropping the last digit. Bad omen.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Embarcadero ::: Platform escalator out of service and fully dismantled.

New faregates are fully installed at Embarcadero.
Oh golly. Apparently BART is concerned that a bit of tunnel in the new SFO extension may not have been constructed up to spec and could be vulnerable in an earthquake. BART and the contractor say that this won't slow down the project. Whatever. I don't think anyone really believes what they say about schedule anymore.
Ashby ::: All faregates in service, one entry and two exit.

Onboard ::: Light traffic; I get a nice comfy seat.

Embarcadero ::: Platform staircase is back in service.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Embarcadero ::: Oh, this is something new! The platform staircase is out of service and cordoned off! Golly. Can't tell why; there's no one around and the stairs look fine.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

No response yet from World Famous BART Spokesman Mike Healy to our email about the weird evening wait at 12th Street. I mean, I don't expect Mike to jump to attention every time I send an email...he's got real work to do (I presume). But seeing as BART Customer Service just doesn't respond to BART customers and BART management doesn't share any information with its front-line employees, Mike is just about the only public point of contact at BART.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Embarcadero ::: BART is almost half done with the new faregate installation. By tomorrow, the west end of Embarcadero should be complete.

Platform escalator is back in service.

Other than that, well, it kind of sucks tonight. There's no one single full-on disaster, just a whole bunch of things that go a little bit wrong. The usual stuff -- late, overcrowded, backed up, etc. etc.
Tim Goodman, humorous SF Chronicle TV reviewer, riffs on BART:
  • This probably sounds semi-insane -- yes, a real stunner for us -- but we'd like to disabuse BART officials of their notion to put TVs on the trains in an effort to generate more revenue. Why? Because, we smell a rat that reeks more than the funky green coat on the guy next to us, who just happens to be passed out and sharing the next 20 stops with us. A Chronicle story on Friday said flat-screen TV additions (with optional headphones for riders) would give BART $25 million to $40 million during the course of a 10-year contract. But what do riders get? News. And commercials. Our guess is a lot of the latter. Hey, here's an idea: How about putting some money into more trains? Wait, here's another: We'll take the TV scam if $3 million of that money is used to clean up the pigeon splooge that's all over everywhere at BART.
  • We'd pay an additional 50 cents each way on BART if we could bring coffee onto the train. Why the hell hasn't anyone at BART tried that idea?
  • This BART thing is now annoying us. Honestly. The elevators are always busted, the signs are lousy, the pigeons are blowing mud at a ridiculous pace, once-free parking lots are now pay-only -- and now we're going to be crammed onto a train showing Headline News with no remote? Where did things go wrong? Where's the love, BART? A little Peaberry's to and Peet's fro -- that's not allowed? Where's the joy? You know, the kind of spark one gets when the Concord train comes by -- what we call "the Unicorn train" because it's so rare. We get so little pleasure on your trains. Why not give back to the people, instead of punishing us with TV advertising? Coffee yes, commercials no. Rally the protest singers. Let's get a parade up.
  • We don't like whiners. We whine only when it serves our interest. And, as you know, we're not afraid to take a bullet for you, TV-wise. We watch TV so you don't have to. That said, is it not cruel and unusual punishment that we be forced to watch TV on BART? On the other hand, it seems like so much fun on JetBlue.
  • "Tonight on BART TV: And you thought the Concord train was a Unicorn. How about that 24th Street train? Our I-Team investigates. After the break, some news you can use: How to decipher which side you should step to when it's not your train. Later: BART Sports. How fast can you get up the Embarcadero steps when the elevator is out and you're late for a meeting?"
Ashby ::: two exit faregates, one entry faregate. Entry faregate jams. Queue is growing. Passenger flags down staton agent, who saunters over and reverses one of the exit gates, then sets about trying to unjam the busted gate. By now there are 30 or so people queued up to enter the station.

I get a seat on the train. I'm comfortable.

Embarcadero ::: Platform escalator is still out of service, cordoned off, and undergoing "repair efforts." Kinda ridiculous, seeing as it just spent a full week undergoing major repair not one month ago. You'd think that a major repair like that would buy you more than 1 month of service.