BART Changes its Schedule. But, Is it Ethical? Why does it seem Nefarious?

I awoke one morning and trudged to the train.  I had gone early a few days that week for some meetings at the crack of dawn, then had a work at home day.  Thursday September 17, 2015 was the first time I went to work at my normal time.  I plan my commute to catch a train that turns around at the Concord station so I can get a seat.  Standing for 50 minutes in an overcrowded train is not my idea of fun, and half the time no amount of cologne can mask the damage done.

I arrived 5 minutes before my train and see the train signs omits the arrival of that train.  That’s odd. Well there are often problems.  The train was full so I waited for the next one, 15 minutes later and yes, trains that leave Pittsburg after 8am generally have a few seats, but I was annoyed.  I waited close to 30 minutes longer than I should have.

Guess what?  The same thing happened the next day.  Being confused, I posted about this on Facebook and a friend mentioned that BART had really screwed up the schedule.  By now you know I’m a shy wall flower, so I found BART’s twitter address and said “hey what’s up?”  Maybe not in those exact words, but I was polite.  I was a satisfied BART rider after all.

BART, in their infinite wisdom let me know what they had done even though I might have to wait 5 more minutes (just 5 more minutes! No inconvenience there!).  And they were adding cars to the trains I was waiting for.  Well paint my lips red and call me Jezebel!  Here’s what wonderful present BART gave to the riders of at the Concord Station.

  1. Eliminate (at least) 3, 10 car trains (the ones I take) that start in Concord, empty.
  2. Make all the remaining trains 10 car trains.
  3. Make sure that the time between trains in Concord between 7am and 8am is always 15 minutes instead of 8.

In case you missed it let me do the math for you:

  1. Bart eliminates at least 30 empty cars, to add 3 – 6 non-empty cars. That’s -80% at best.  Each car has just under 100 seats, so we see 2700 seats being eliminated in Concord and replaced with roughly 250 seats (larger trains add seats, but also add riders).  Tough to be exact since BART changed the schedule and I don’t have an old record.  But this is close.
  2. Bart increases the time between trains to add waits and overcrowds platforms and trains. People wait for the next train and the platform becomes more and more crowded.

And they were surprised I wasn’t thrilled.  In fact I was pissed.  But here’s why I am very pissed.  VERY, VERY as a matter of fact.  Here’s why:

All the trains eliminated from the Concord Station now turn around in Pleasant Hill.  And Pleasant Hill is a misnomer.  The station is Pleasant Hill adjacent, but it really is located in Walnut Creek.  A few things to consider.  Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County with a population of over 120k.  Walnut Creek has half as many residents at 60k.  Walnut Creek is one of the more affluent cities with per capita income over almost 50k, while Concord lags at just over 30k.  Do we see some social-economic pandering going on?  It is tough to miss if you open your eyes.

Now I’m not saying BART didn’t have an overcrowding problem in Walnut Creek, they do.  But to solve it by just moving the problem to Concord, is both short sighted and irresponsible.  Could they not have found a better way than reducing the open seats in Concord by more than 2500?  I have to estimate as the schedules have changed and I didn’t take a measurement to what was about to happen in advance.

The worst part is that they KNEW they were dumping the problem on Concord.  Tough words?  Really?  Let me give you another pertinent fact.

When BART shut down lengths of track for a period of time they start announcing it MONTHS in advance.  When they shut down exits at busy stations, they station people there telling people in advance.  When they change fares or charge for parking they have a blitz at the station with people and collaterals.

What did they do at Concord?  Absolutely nothing.  No announcements.  No signage.  No people answering questions.  They hid their disrespect from the patrons.  If we didn’t notice the change in the arriving trains we might not have ever noticed.  Yes, there is a small blurb on their webpage.  It wasn’t on the news.  It wasn’t on flyers. It wasn’t in the major news organizations.  They may have just as well wrote on the inside of the stall at the Concord KFC.  It was not communicated.

So, children here is your lesson in socio-economic bullshit.  Make the wealthier people happy and shit on the lower socio economic classes. I’m guessing that the BART Directors didn’t think we’d notice.  Or they believed we wouldn’t do anything.

In the past I looked at taking BART as a perk of a job.  It was a solid, relatively easy way to commute.  Now?  It really isn’t much better than sitting in the backlog of the bay bridge.  Way to piss off our customers BART.  I am steamed.  I know most of the other people I now stand on a crowded platform with are not happy.

I tweet the BART account most days (@SFBART) to let them see, feel and ultimately ignore my dissatisfaction.    I have also, as you see, posted this for perpetuity on my blog.  This is my public record of displeasure. I may not have my numbers exact, but I am very sure my commute is longer, less comfortable and unhappy.  That much is crystal clear fact.

In closing, let me congratulate you BART.  You have taken a loyal, satisfied 30 year customer and shown such disrespect, you may never get a kind word from me again.  And I hadn’t even started complaining about the mess you’ve made in the Embarcadero station.  Closing exits and not fixing the escalators quickly enough has made it a safety concern.  Are you waiting for a death to really do anything effective?  Why yes, I will be critical from here on out.

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Parking Wars: A Descent into Madness

As you might have heard, we had another BART strike in the Bay Area.  This forced every commuter into new modes of transportation.  That meant I had to drive to work.   There were two key impacts here:  traffic was ridiculous and I needed to move my car each day at lunch.  There are plenty of pay lots, but with the abundance of 4 hours spots, and meter maids that only make 1 circuit, it seems silly to pay $7 a day.

You may recall, I have an on-going feud with a business around the corner that harasses people who part outside of their office.  The walls of their office had been cargo bay doors, but now they are walls.  There is one door which might still be a bay, so I don’t park in front of it.

I tend to park other places in the morning, because I can always park in front of their faux driveway in the afternoon.  A few weeks prior I had noticed they had added a new sign on their walls (not the steel doors that protect the walls at night).  They read “Tenant Parking Only  Violators will be towed.”  This is the part of our show where we get to discuss reality and some people’s lack of it.  I have no doubt that the tenants want to park there.  But, as I discussed with a parking enforcement officer, unless there is an official city sign, those signs that were bought on line for $20 hold no weight.  Wow they must be committed to the cause.

(Seriously, check out that link.  Clearly there is a market for people tricking others into not parking in legal spaces.  I bet they make a ton.  Wish I was selling these idiots their signs.  And yes, I know I completely ignore the fourth wall.)

They must have forgotten that the street and sidewalk are public property.  They have no specific rights to stop others from parking there.  While there was a cargo door they had easement rights of access and the right to be unimpeded, but they forfeited those rights when they built walls. The reality is that if they tow someone’s car for parking legally in front of a wall, in a public space, they are liable for the cost and inconvenience. I personally would love for them to tow me so I can sue them and go after punitive damages.  I will.

As delusional as their signs and appeals for drivers to park other places are, they have finally hit a new low.  Last week I got a new harassing flyer.  I put it back in their mail slot, so I’ll have to paraphrase.

[In an angry, yet pleading tone:]

You can’t park here.  We will have you towed.  Really we will.  We haven’t yet because we don’t know how to contact you.  We need these spaces because when we use the cargo door, we need to park the truck at an angle so as not to block the street.  We WILL tow you.

This is so ridiculous that I don’t know where to start.  How about that it’s a very wide street and only a double trailer will block the street?  Or that trucks that are unloading block streets all the time? Perhaps they use the only driver in the US that worries about other cars being able to drive when they are off-loading?  If they park at an angle, how will the cargo be off loaded to the bay, if the truck isn’t flush?  Let that sink in gentle reader.  Reread this list till you realize that it has been proof of sorts.  (I’m sure more than a few of you took geometry in high school.)

Thus, I believe we can safely say that if their goal isn’t to use the bay door as a cargo bay, because the cargo must go the sidewalk before it can be lifted up, then they don’t really need a bay door and the need to not block it is silly.  The truck can park parallel to the parked cars.  I really can’t see how they are making their case.

Therefore, I propose a call to action.  Everyone should find a reason to park in front of 229 Harrison St. in Oakland.  (This is a visual daily double.)   If you look at the picture, you’ll see 4 garage doors:

  1. The first has a stair case in front of it you can park there
  2. I’ve never seen the 2nd open, I wouldn’t park there
  3. The third is an office wall
  4. The fourth is an office wall

This is our cause, take up your keys and park happily.  And when the wicked witch of parking delusions accosts you, tell here Lee sent you.  I don’t suffer fools and neither should you.

This was the start of an exciting several days, don’t miss the next post, you won’t believe my Tuesday.

Tuesday 11/27/2012 5pm or this writer’s therapy session

I haven’t blogged much in November. I haven’t forgotten about you, but between a weekend out of town for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah, Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo, time for stretching my creative blog chops are limited.

In terms of NaNoWriMo, I have fought creative blanks and cliches.  I have failed more often than I’ve succeeded.  The goal is to write 1667 works per day, 50k for the month.  Of course you already knew that.  At the moment I’m at 33,200 words, which is about 1229 per day.  Or in other terms, on average I fell 437 words short per day.  I now have 3.5 days to make up for those 27 days of missing 437 words. or in other words a shit ton.

I have fallen into a trap. I can see where my novel, for now I am told I am a novelist, is and where the next scene probably is.  I also have two scenes well formed in my mind.  I don’t have an ending.  It will probably end similarly to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a police raid and general chaos  Yes I worry how to end it. I have three endings in mind. On a scale of 1-10, the best is a 3.  You might have thought I’d have figured this out well in advance.  You in the back?  Yes you are correct, that would be a no.

Then there is the title.  When I set up the NaNoWriMo details, I called my novel, for it is MY NOVEL even unfinished, Urban Hopscotch.  Four weeks ago I decided that title sucked.  There was no hopscotch and there were no jacks.  Hell, it was only marginally urban.  But there are hobos.  Let’s be honest, if you look close enough, there are hobos everywhere, so they may as well have been in my book.  For now it is called — wait for it– Untitled.  Unlike Tyrese, I do not have a 6-pack.  Most of you have at one time or another  requested I keep my shirt on.  Its on now and will be for a while.

They say write what you know.  What do I know?  Music, Food, Commuting, Random Drivel, Technology, Books, San Francisco. Stuff. Things.  I like sex, but for god’s sake we all know I  know very little about it.  No my book won’t be porn.  Maybe it should have been.  I’ll tell you a secret — a good sex scene is very hard to write.  I stopped trying. It’s much easier to have people cuddle.  It’s what we do most of the time isn’t it?  

See Dick undress. Undress Dick! Undress!

See Jane undress.  Undress Jane! Undress!

See Dick and Jane run to the bedroom. Run! Run! Run!

See Dick and Jane cuddle. Cuddle! Cuddle! Cuddle.

the end.  

I bet that might have won NaNoWriMo, though it needs about 49,950 more words.

And one final note.  No one every leaves a comment here and I approve everything that isn’t spam (I only approve things once, then they flow freely, like wine at one of my parties.) I am in the middle of an on-going debate.  I would love your comments on it.

Have you read “Pat the Bunny?”  If so, what are your thoughts on it.

thank you for being my therapist tonight. Sadly, my insurance won’t be paying the bill.