What are Your Priorities for BART in San Francisco?

ep's picture

With the news that BART Director Dorothy Dugger will most likely be stepping down (getting pushed out) in the coming days, it seems like a great opportunity to talk about what San Francisco residents think priorities should be for BART in the future.  

I commute to and from work everyday on BART and am generally very pleased with its performance during rush hours.  The vast majority of the time the trains are on schedule and get me from A to B very quickly.  My main issue is the cleanliness or the lack thereof and what seems to be an incredibly out-dated fleet of trains.  The seats look like people have been sitting and spilling on them since the 80s and the on-train speaker system and signage is awful.  It is usually impossible to hear anything the conductor says and their is no signage to indicate what stop is next.  This is not just a functionality issue but a major potential public safety issue in the event of an emergency!

So my priorities for BART are:

- An upgrade to the fleet of BART's incredibly outdated trains

- A vast improvement in audio and visual communications capability on-board trains

- Better signage on-board the train and on BART platforms.

What are your priorities for BART in San Francisco!?  Let's make sure the BART Board listens to the people it actually serves as they fight their internal political battles.   

Ben Shore's picture

BART delays are a big problem

I'm not an engineer and I don't understand the inner-workings of mass-transit. However, as someone who has ridden BART for over 20 years I still do not fully understand why it is that trains will get stuck and the BART operator (who I agree is often very difficult to hear) says "we're just waiting for the train in front of us." I'm sorry - waiting for what exactly? These trains run themselves almost automatically and, oh yea, they're on tracks! It's like there can be a big traffic jam at a red light or a pack of cows crossing the road. So just keep it moving! Sure there will be times when there is some malfunction and the train needs to be repaired. But really, what keeps them stalled for those 5 and 10 minutes that seem to happen a few times a week? If I had one priority for BART it would be to just keeeeep moving

Full Night Service

I agree with Ben, the delays are super dissatisfying. However, I am more annoyed that BART doesn't run late at night. I think it would be a great source of economic activity for people in the East Bay to be able to get to SF and vice versa during night time hours. Even if the BART only ran every hour after midnight, this would be a huge support for nightlife in the area.

Infill Stations

Here is an article by the transport politic that suggests one way to improve BART and increase ridership potentially to DC levels is to create more frequent station stops.


This poses an interesting question of if we would like fast train speeds (with a max speed of 80mph BART is currently one of the fastest rapid transit systems in the US) or if we would like increased access to the system (this would potentially allow more people to walk or bike to stations)?

gcotter's picture

BART Parking

I like BART but I live in SF and can walk from my house to BART.  However... I have a friend in the East Bay - San Ramon - who comes to SF for shopping, matinee performances and dining.  It seems that about one out of every 3 or 4 times she comes over she has to drive.  Why?  No available parking at the east bay BART stations.  Yesterday she again drove to SF because she tried three - yes, THREE -- BART stations and all of them had full parking lots.  Because she had a scheduled appointment over here she couldn't take time to drive to yet more stations to look for parking, so she drove to SF.

We say we want to raise costs of piblic parking in SF to encourage people to take BART to SF.  Fine.  But unless SF works with BART and other bay area cities to have adequate parking for cars at the east bay BART stations, then people will be forced to drive - even when they would prefer to take BART.

Any solutions in mind?  Maybe multi-level parking garages in the east bay? At least a cell phone app that could let you know which, if any, BART stations have available parking.

If we want BART to be used we need to address this pretty basic problem.



BART woes: Parking and MRSA in seats

I appreciate gcotter's input.

I am a huge fan of BART. Other than the screeching sound it has when coming into the station (where it starts sounding like a Battlestar Galactice fighter jet coming in to dock) and some mess ups in timing, it is by far the most reliable form of public transit in the Bay Area. 

gcotter brings to my attention what must be a big issue for East Bay folks around the clock, not just during commuter or party hours. This issue will only be aggravated further as more and more people move to the East Bay, fleeing SF housing prices and not as awesome locales from abroad (I'm not biased at all, no I am not). 

Another huge issue for those Easy Bayers and others is the fact that the seats on BART are harboring dangerous bacteria in that disgusting tacky nylon seating they have. You can find more information on the Bay Citizen/New York Times article published today: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/us/06bcseats.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=homepage&src=me

Basically, I think we should go with hard vinyl seating, that make has some give to it. I'm really scared of MRSA, apparently 19000 preventable deaths happen from infections from it a year and they found it in the BART seats. That doesn't mean its in amounts that will be dangerous to anyone, but just look for their comments about bacteria from fecal matter. BART, that is not a delightful thought I will be having when I board your trains. 


I sit on the speed side for BART vs. more stations

I think one of the most crippling elements of the MUNI system is that there are just too many stops in the system, particularly for lines like the N-Judah, which is already filled to the brim during commuter hours and stops every two blocks to let one or two people off each time. Its important the MUNI do this because there are a lot of differently abled and older folks who need to be able to get home by walking not that many blocks. I would disagree that BART needs to adopt a similar stance. I agree that infill stations like the one at Fruitvale have done great things for the local economy there and is definitely a well-used station, but, bottom-line, I like BART because it can take me from downtown Oakland to the Mission in 19 minutes. I would rather have to bike 5 minutes to get to my final destination than have the BART have to slow down by some extra minutes so that there is a BART stop right in front of the taqueria I want to go to. I love Washington's Metro system, but it covers way less distance, covering areas that aren't nearly as distinct as the regional nodes represented by Berkeley, SF, Oakland, South SF, and a lot of the east bay like Walnut Creek.

If we really want to provide more access to people to walk/bike to BART, I would argue more for BART extensions. I wholeheartedly support the extensions occurring from Oakland to San Jose. That will allow people from way more regional nodes to have access to the BART system. For everyone who's out of walking and biking distance, they can take a bus to BART. For everyone who's on the BART line but not near a stop, they probably have even more access to a bus that can take them.

CJC's picture

Love the Idea of night BART.

Love the Idea of night BART. Even a reduced service of one train per line per hour would allow night-birds to stay in the bars and clubs longer and keep that bevridge economy ticking!

CJC's picture

Also...Bikes on bart


There could also be a more elegant solution for bringing bikes transbay on BART. At the moment bikes crowd into the regular trains which can cause obstruction and irritation to other users, particularly at rush hour. As a cyclist I don't want to be a problem but I do need to bring it sometimes. With increasing numbers of cyclist commuters, there is reasonable argument for a bike carriage with racks on one side and benches on the other. This is in the interest and safety of all passengers. 


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