Bart Strikes and the Entire Bay Feels

July 1st, the beginning of short week; the run up to Independence day.  And the beginning of a BART strike.  You might think a transit strike only effects the people on the transit system.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, over 400,000 people a day take BART somewhere, many of them to San Francisco.  The buses and the ferries can’t add that many more riders.    The morning back up at the Bay Bridge went from 20 minutes to over an hour.  The Oakland Ferry holds 310 people. They didn’t add 1000 more trips. They added 6 or so.

But it wasn’t just the toll plaza that was effected; those cars backed on to the approaching freeways, creating roadblocks and traffic jams.  I ran into a lot of it.  I generally ride BART into Oakland each day.  It is a 31 minute ride, part of an 60-70 minute commute – I have to walk a mile from the station to the office.  Each day I drove in to the office it took at least 90 minutes.  A normal drive is 45-50 minutes, or 60 when something goes wrong.  But that is just me. What of everyone else, stuck in different directions and longer rides?  It was a miserable week.

On my first day driving to work , and in retrospect I was glad it was only 3 days, the horror of the driving dead started on the city streets I took to avoid the freeway.  I was on an “expressway” like road.  The speed limit was 50 mph and the lights were spread out.  When we hit a light, there would be 4 or 5 cars stacked in each of the two lanes.  I was always second in the fast lane.   Normally, this was no big deal.  Not today.  As the cars to my right moved and begun to speed up, I had to believe the driver in the car in front of me was caught in the throes of a death curse or self love.  3 cars from the other lane would  speed by and cross the street before he got across the intersection.  And then, he’d pace the car next to him so I couldn’t get around.  Once, was driver error.  4 times was madenning.  I offered my soul to Cthulhu to get out of this madness.  There was no luck.    Cursed to endure this madness for eternity, misery for my commuting soul.

When I finally got around this idiot, I ran into a new problem. If the previous driver was the driving dead, this next driver had a death wish.  In traffic, we often follow cars closer than we might otherwise. I was about 2 car lengths behind the car infront of me, with 2 cars behind me acting similarly.  There were plenty of cars to my right as well.  We were moving at a reasonable speed.  Not too fast, not too slow.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the car in the back of my lane dart to the right.  He sped forward. Faster. Faster. With no where to go he cut in front of me, using the extra 6 inches that were there.  Thank god he was daring enough to risk a few lives to move 40 feet forward in traffic.  Me? I’m too timid. I’m sure if he and I were timing our commutes, he’d beat me by a good 90 seconds every day.  What’s the down side in that?  Perhaps my timidity was the curse of the old ones.

Who needs a horror film?  I had plenty of scares from the new drivers on the road.  I watched one car completely misuse the merge into the center bore of the tunnel and cut of a car completely unawere that danger lurked in front of him. And behind him as he slammed on the brakes that no one expected.  Cars went everywhere; I merely shook my head.  Transit strike or no, some people should not be allowed to drive.  Period.

Since I normally ride BART most days, I got to listen to the radio. A lot of radio. Sports talk. Baseball. Music.  On the first day, The DiVinyls came on.  Everyone loves “I Touch Myself” don’t they?  I quickly remembered that I have half a post – a critical analysis of love songs  versus masturbation songs – in my head.  I will work on that another time.  There was too much time in the car last week.  Too much time to think.

At one point I passed a bus, parked on the street in front of the Lafayette BART station.  The driver stood in front of the bus, in the street.   It had a great scrolling marquee.  It read:

“Try Transit!”

“Ride a Bus”

“Out of Service”

I am pretty sure the irony was lost on most everyone involved with that bus.

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